Spotlight on Justin Washington: A Champion for Greensboro Parks Foundation

January 19, 2024

Discovering a Passion: Justin’s Journey with Greensboro Parks Foundation

In a recent interview, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Justin Washington, a dedicated individual whose journey with the Greensboro Parks Foundation has been nothing short of inspiring. Justin’s involvement with the foundation began through his connections at Greensboro Parks and Recreation, where he had previously volunteered as a Commissioner and Chair for the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Commission. Continuing his commitment, Justin collaborated with Greensboro Parks and Recreation as a volunteer on the Guilford County Parks Commission. Justin began serving on the board of Greensboro Parks Foundation in 2022 and took on the role of Chair in January of 2023.

Justin Washington at Gillespie Golf Course
Justin Washington enjoying a round of golf at Gillespie Golf Course

As Justin delved deeper into his work with Greensboro Parks Foundation, he discovered the extensive needs within the park system. Capital projects for park system improvements were identified, but the current funding gap at Parks and Recreation presented a challenge. Justin emphasized the essential support required for the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department, recognizing their commendable efforts while highlighting the unmet needs.

Justin expressed a desire for people to be more informed about the contributions of Greensboro Parks and Recreation to the community. He believes that this understanding will naturally lead individuals to discover the Greensboro Parks Foundation and its crucial role in supporting a diverse range of amenities and programs. For Justin, parks and recreation extend beyond mere play; they are integral to the well-being of individuals, families, and the city as a whole.

Building Connections: Community Leaders and Collaborations

An exciting aspect of Justin’s journey has been meeting passionate community leaders through Greensboro Parks Foundation. Participation in the Guilford Nonprofit

Consortium’s Board Training Academy introduced Justin to individuals like Tamica Campbell Hughes, President of Level Up Parenting. He was recently invited to be on a podcast with Ivey Ghee, Consultant with The Hospitality G company, and a local community connector. Through Greensboro Parks Foundation, Justin reports that he has expanded his connection with Richard Beard and the Greensboro Sport Foundation. Richard was an invaluable partner in helping Greensboro Park Foundation hold its first annual Greensboro Parks Foundation Open charity golf tournament. Justin, who chaired the golf tournament planning committee, says that the golf tournament got him connected with generous sponsoring organizations like Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, Fox8, and First Point, Inc., all of whom were glad to step and invest in Greensboro Parks Foundation’s vision for creating lasting change at one our City’s cherished landmark recreational facilities.

Holistic Approach: Parks and Recreation Covering Every Aspect of Life

Justin reflects upon the fact that, from the parks to the recreation centers to the senior centers – Greensboro Parks and Recreation covers every stage and aspect of life, every generation. He says that, “Whether your focus is on playing basketball or going to the park, whatever you need there is a place in our community for you to go thanks to the parks department. I was a parks person to begin with, then I found the recreation centers and began participating in their programs. I got involved as a volunteer with the Maplewood Cemetery in 2017, one of four cemeteries that the Parks and Recreation department manages for the city. Becoming involved with Maplewood Cemetery is actually when I out about the Greensboro Parks Foundation. The foundation provided financial support for a memorial wall for veterans at Maplewood Cemetery, a project that I was heavily involved with and was thrilled to see completed thanks to Greensboro Parks Foundation’s generous support.” For Justin, parks and recreation is open spaces, trails, and welcoming public facilities that provide numerous opportunities. He commended the excellent programming and events offered by Greensboro Parks and Recreation, viewing them as a means to foster wellness and connect people with the outdoors, each other, and the community at large.

Justin was asked about what friends and family say or ask when they find out that he volunteers with Greensboro Parks Foundation. He laughs and says,My friends tell me I’m always into something. They want to know what’s going on with parks and recreation in Greensboro. Being part of Greensboro Parks Foundation, I’m able to be an anchor and keep my friends and relatives informed about what is happening. My family and friends know that I’m always busy, so they’re not surprised about me working with the foundation. It’s another connection that I have that lets me keep my network updated with what’s next for parks and recreation in Greensboro.”

Justin Washington Shotput

How would others describe Justin? With a smile, Justin remarks, “They might say that I’m a daredevil. I scuba dive and jump out of planes. I used to have an annual tour where I would jump off something or into something. I cross train regularly and love accessing the fitness programming at Smith Active Adult Center (one of Greensboro Parks and Recreation two recreation centers that provide diverse, year-round programs, activities and services that meet the physical, social, mental and cultural needs of adults 55 and better in Greensboro and Guilford County). Others would probably say that I don’t sit down; I’m always moving. I’m everywhere, at every event. I always have something going. I look forward to the next project.” When he’s not volunteering Justin loves spending time with his three grandkids, and playing golf – he’s a regular at Gillespie Golf Course.

Justin says that he also stays busy with the JustOne Foundation, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2016 to provide safe, affordable, and fun activities that encourage families to spend quality time together while enriching their lives and broadening their horizons.

What would Justin tell someone who is thinking about donating to and/or volunteering with Greensboro Parks Foundation? “We need the help of volunteers. The reward is well worth it to be part of the foundation. People that come back to visit Greensboro after moving away, really appreciate our local parks. Volunteering with and donating through Greensboro Parks Foundation is an investment in the present and future of what makes Greensboro such a great place to live and visit. If you cherish the parks and recreational facilities that make up our national award winning park system, I encourage you to learn more about Greensboro Parks Foundation, to volunteer with us, and to give generously to support our mission of enhancing parks, green spaces, and impactful programs for our residents and visitors. It’s a great way to give back to the community.

By Paula Barger, Executive Director, Greensboro Parks Foundation