Your donation enables people with differing abilities to live in the community according to their wishes.
Your donation can provide the support necessary for people with differing abilities to find jobs.
Your donation helps children and adults with differing abilities enjoy supported recreational opportunities.
It was a bold idea for its time. Melwood started in 1963 when a small group of parents and supporters decided to teach plant care to young adults who were considered by most to be untrainable, and unemployable. Their goal was almost unheard of: jobs for people with disabilities.
Andrews Air Force Base donated seven acres of undeveloped land along rural Dower House Road in Prince George's County, along with one surplus tent, and Melwood´s first trainees went to work growing plants.
In 1966 Earl Copus became Director — and at the time, he was Melwood’s only full-time employee. Over the following decades, Melwood would pioneer many new milestones in the field that would be known as social-entrepreneurial ventures: businesses with the ´double bottom line´ of providing revenue as well as contributing to society by providing jobs and independence for people with differing abilities.
The first successes came in horticulture. Melwood crews raised plants and sold them at work sites around the Washington D.C. area. That work led to groundskeeping and landscaping work, where Melwood crews impressed those in leadership with their good, dependable work.
Next came custodial work, aided by the 1971 Javits-Wagner-O´Day Act, now known as the AbilityOne Program, providing federal jobs for Americans with disabilities who could show they are able to do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay.
In 1971 Melwood purchased a 108-acre farm in rural Charles County, Maryland. The Melwood Farm began as as an agricultural and vocational training project.
However, recreation soon became the big attraction on the scenic site. Today it is home to Camp Accomplish, an inclusive camp for kids with and without disabilities; Access Adventures, Melwood´s travel service that takes adults with disabilities on fun trips and getaways to destinations near and far; and Melwood Retreat Center, offering meeting and event facilities in a beautiful countryside location.
Through the 1970´s, Melwood workers and staff continued to show they could turn in fully competent and dependable work, and Melwood´s contracts grew in size and number. The number of people served grew from 25 in 1970 to more than 100 in 1975, the year the budget exceeded $1 million. By the mid 1980´s Melwood employed more than 300, and the budget surpassed $5 million.
In 1998 Melwood signed its first total facility management contract, now responsible for the day-to-day operation of the USDA´s new 350,000 square-foot George Washington Carver Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Melwood´s largest contract is a custodial and janitorial contract for the entire U.S. Naval Academy, totaling 120 Melwood workers. Other sites include the Fort George G. Meade Army base, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Goddard Space Flight Center. Currently, Melwood employs more than 650 people with differing abilities working at approximately 41 contract sites around the greater Washington area.
Training and employment for a wide range of occupations is Melwood’s goal for people with differing abilities. The Job Development Program, a 12-week training course at Melwood, was designed to assist people with differing abilities in achieving their career goals by providing them with specialized job training. Melwood has successfully established employment relationships and partnerships with local area employers; and in the past year, more than 30 people with differing abilities have been placed as a result of this dynamic program. Today, Melwood celebrates its 50th anniversary of providing jobs and services to people with differing abilities. Pioneering new methods to provide more people with differing abilities the careful training they need to become proud and valuable members of the workforce in their communities continues to be a key part of Melwood’s mission.