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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2011 6 years ago

Nonprofit CEO Showcase: Helen Green

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Founder and President, Jessica Green Foundation Inc.

Mission
To provide hope for better days to families and individuals struggling with Autism Spectrum Disorder by helping to give advocacy assistance, support, and to help the families obtain the services needed for their loved ones.

Vision
To provide persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder with an assisted living facility in a safe and loving environment.

Serving Jacksonville
The Jessica Green Foundation Inc. was founded in 2008 and began serving Jacksonville in 2009.

Those served
• Jessica Green was an alumnus of Ed White High School. In collaboration with the HEAL Foundation, the Jessica Green Foundation provided graphing calculators to a special education program at Ed White High School.

• In The Farm Inc., whose mission is to facilitate community-inclusive programs and projects that promote the development of networks of support, skills, resources, access and opportunities for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities. The Jessica Green Foundation helped to fund not only programs but In The Farm’s first project, which is The Healing Gardens. This is a gardening program that will provide the opportunity for those who have been affected by autism, their families and other community participants, to come together to grow flowers, fruits and vegetables in a community organic and hydroponic garden.

• We are also looking forward to help fund Great Strides Rehabilitation’s latest project, music therapy. This will help children with autism increase their motor skills, cognitive skills, speech and communication skills, attention skills, social and emotional skills and reduce anxiety.

Biggest challenge
I remember what a big challenge it was when it came to inclusion for my own daughter because autism has always been unknown to most of the public. My biggest challenge is getting the word out to the public about autism awareness. People need to know that autism is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and to communicate with others. This is so important as the numbers are growing and the needs of families are growing as well. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that autism is diagnosed in 1 in 91 children, and 1 in 58 boys.

Hometown
I was born in Los Angeles. When I was 8 months old, my family moved to Jacksonville and I’ve been here since.

First experience with community service
Girl Scouts gave me the opportunity to serve the community due to all the badges I had to earn. I remember getting a food and clothing drive together to give to the needy and also helping the elderly in the community with their meals, cleaning their homes, planting a garden in the neighborhood, and just anything I could do to help out. At that point, it wasn’t just about earning badges but getting involved to do more.

Your job before the Jessica Green Foundation
I was an administrative assistant to the chair in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Florida, but it was quite clear that God had other plans for me. My life took a big turn when my next full-time job would be caring for my daughter, Jessica. Through my challenges with my own daughter I became an advocate, mentor and teacher for many other families and their children who struggle with autism.

Upcoming events
March 26: 7 a.m., Ride with Me for Autism 2011, Historical Preservation Camp Milton, 1175 Halsema Road N. Infor-mation: visit www.ridewithmeforautism.org or call 274-0639.

Contact
www.jessicagreenfoundation.org

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