2016 – The Banyan Odyssey, a Year in Review

Hello friends, welcome to our blog! We are so glad you’re here, and we can’t wait to share with you our goals, dreams, the things we love in the handicapable community, and more!

We are excited for the year we have ahead, but allow us to share with you a bit about the year we just had.

As of December 16th, 2015, we officially received our 501(C)(3) tax exempt status! We spent the entirety of 2016 laying the groundwork for The Banyan Odyssey to grow and expand.


Here’s what we did:

  • Bill and Jane personally financed “vision trips,” – tours of similar non-profits in Indiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Orlando and South Carolina. We appreciated how each operated, but we especially loved the Brookwood Community in Texas! Our trip to South Carolina’s Walgreen District Center was inspired by one of our new favorite book: “No Greatness Without Goodness” by Randy Lewis.
  • Jane took a Caregiver Accelerator Business Start-Up Course. She pitched our model to St. Petersburg’s Greenhouse, which was a great training and networking opportunity!
  • This past summer, we started Camp Banyan for handicapable young adults! We had campers from as far away as Tampa, New Port Richey and St. Pete. We had weekly sessions in Life Skills, Job Skills, Social Skills, the Arts and Recreation.
  • Bill and Jane assisted in rehearsals and set production for “The Wizard of Oz” put on by Theatre eXceptional in September. It featured an amazing cast of forty handicapable adults, including many friends from Camp Banyan.
  • The Banyan Odyssey, as well as our family, were sponsors for the Horses for Handicapped Benefit Dinner and Concert. Jane served on the fundraising committee and Mary Elizabeth performed with the Aristo Music Studio. All proceeds went to defray the costs of operation for this volunteer-led non-profit, who provides equine therapy for our target population.
  • Recently, we began researching property for a café that will serve as a “proof of concept” for training and employing handicapable adults. It is planned to be in operation while the hotel and residential facility are being built.
  • Our campers from Camp Banyan came back together to create a Thanksgiving Dinner for our friends in association with Skycrest Community Church. The campers assisted with menu planning, grocery shopping, food prep, decorations, and hosting.
  • The group came back together on February 17th of this year (2017) to prepare and serve a dinner for 45, which took place on February 18th.  There was lots of love and good food to share! Check out photos by RK Studios on The Banyan Odyssey Facebook page and Instagram!

So, what’s next you ask? We have a few things planned for 2017:

  • We are planning a full-scale fundraising campaign this year!
  • There will be a 3-day Art Camp during Spring Break in March for those Campers in town and interested. It will stress following directions, producing some beautiful artwork and confidence-building socialization games.
  • We are excited to once again host Camp Banyan in June and July. We hope to partner with the ARC of Tampa Bay in 2017.
  • We are moving forward on two property searches and acquisitions: a small restaurant (short-term) with a teaching kitchen, and a beachfront hotel property (long-term) geared to meet the needs of disabled travelers (wounded vets, the elderly, families of special needs children, etc.) that will employ as many handicapable staffers as possible. Employees will reside in a dorm-style residential complex subsidized by The Banyan Odyssey.

Well, there you have it! 2016 was great, and we have high hopes for 2017!

Keep up with our progress on Facebook and Instagram, and check back for more blog posts in the near future!

Thankful for you,

The Banyan Odyssey