‘One Wellington’ Program Aims To Bring Community Together

By Mark Bellissimo, Managing Partner, Wellington Equestrian Partners

Wellington is a unique community for many reasons. For too long, Wellington has been divided into the equestrian and non-equestrian worlds. The majority of residents are not aware of Wellington’s equestrian offerings, and many equestrians have not been exposed to the broader Wellington community.

In 2008, Wellington Equestrian Partners sought to change that perspective. We purchased the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and expanded the world-famous Winter Equestrian Festival. Using only private resources, we spent $30 million elevating the quality of the equestrian facilities and expanded international interest while at the same time making the equestrian world more relevant, accessible and affordable, whether it is for riding, jobs, spectator entertainment or philanthropy. Economic impact on the community doubled to $120 million annually. Our FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge, driven by many generous equestrian families, has raised and distributed close to $3 million to Palm Beach County charities in three years.

At a time when we should be strengthening the community, there are forces that are trying to restore the divisiveness under the guise of preservation. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent by the village and others in response to these efforts via litigation-related costs. Morale within the village is at an all-time low. The business community is in an uproar, divisive factions throughout the community are emerging, and Wellington is developing a reputation as anti-business. It will impact our future, and it needs to stop. These efforts are creating rifts within our council, between its citizens, and wasting resources that should be directed toward investing in our future. As a community, we need leadership from our elected officials and our citizens. We need to focus on what is important, celebrating all that is great about this community and building its future.

In August, I presented a $10,000 donation to the Western Communities Football League to support scholarships and new equipment purchases. It was their 20th anniversary celebration. I was so impressed by the quality of the facilities, the thousand attendees, the volunteers, the engaged village staff and families having a great time. They highlighted success stories and honored Joe Piconcelli, the program’s visionary founder. It is a microcosm of what is great about this community. Investments in time, money and resources all directed to developing the next generation — our children. When I thought about the hundreds of thousands of dollars, potentially millions, being wasted on engineers, consultants, lawyers and staff on frivolous lawsuits, it put everything in perspective for me. Not a week goes by without a request to me from an organization seeking money in support of a great cause. Relatively small amounts of money, which could have a great impact on our community in these tough times, are less available while significant money is wasted daily.

So today, we officially launch “One Wellington.” It will highlight what is great about Wellington with the goal of unifying the community. It will celebrate the unsung heroes in our community and identify fundraising initiatives for the missions they pursue. It will be a grant-based organization that will provide ad-hoc grants. Fundraising initiatives will also occur throughout the year. Our organization and some partners will seed the fund with $50,000. It is our goal to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to Wellington causes.

At our Holiday & Horses event in early December, we will select and honor a “Wellington Hero” nominated from within the community. Nominations for the “heroes” and grant requests can be entered at www.one-wellington.com. The board will be made up of diverse members of our community.

Our inaugural donation will be $14,000 to the Wellington High School band in support of its new uniform initiative. It will match a donation we made to the Palm Beach Central High School band in 2011 for uniforms.

We need to stop building walls and start building bridges so that we can focus our money, time and energy on those things that enhance the community. While others obstruct and divide, we will invest and unite. I am hopeful that over time, this will be a model for how communities work together and that one day it can truly be “One Wellington.”


  1. Mark Bellissimo’s vison of unity is the core of healing within our village. His dedication and passion make our town a better place to live.

    The Wellington High School band Wolverine Mighty Sound is truly grateful and these students lives change when they see such commitment and passion in this world directed towards them.

    From all the Mighty Wolverines, Thank you Mr. Bellissimo!

  2. My family and I are very greatful for the equestrian industry and the contributions of Mr. Brllissimo and his partners.

    We are especially appreciative of their efforts in the face of adversity.

    The nature of the comments to this article demonstrate the frustration of Wrllington residents. We feel betrayed from the last election.

    I’d like to end with a question that I hope Councilman Greene answers: Where do you work and live?

    • I don’t feel betrayed by the last election. I voted for the candidates whose position was the same as mine. Say whatever you want, but the majority of voters in Wellington did not want a ginormous commercial development on South Shore and Pierson Road.

  3. This is what true leadership is about. Despite being shot at by those more interested in their own personal interests, Mark steps up and demonstrates how to benefit the entire community. Mark’s move is a win for Wellington and a win for the equestrian community. We should all stand up and support this move.

  4. Let’s hope that One Wellington will begin to bring this community together.

    Wellington desperately needs leadership and unity.

    Thank you Mark Bellissimo for persevering despite our villainous government and the Jacobs.

  5. Councilman John Greene recused himself from several votes because he had a conflict because he was living at the home of Players Club nightclub owner Neil Hirsch. He should sign up for the Charity Challenge so he can maybe win and afford his own apartment.

  6. I 1000% agree and think that Margolis, Willhite and Greene are trying to destroy what Bellissimo and company are doing and instead give us a town that Jacobs want devoid of jobs and first class horse shows for families. Yes they will find a way to outlaw charity by Bellissimo.

    Please mayor show some leadership and say thank you to Bellissimo for what they are doing for Wellington instead of doing what Jacobs’s want.

  7. Thank you Mark Bellissimo. We are new residents of Wellington and are excited about our first equestrian season.

    We are becoming involved in local charities and “Wow” is all we can say about the Charity Challenge. Have heard much about.

  8. Thank you Mark Bellissimo and WEP for being true corporate neighbors and your families being contributing members of our Community.

    I would like to be totally positive in this comment but can’t but will be brief. I encourage people to contrast WEP’s on-going contributions to Wellington to the paltry, $1400 contribution the Jacobs gave the council in exchange for the council’s public adulation of the Jacobs.

  9. Thank you Mr. Bellissimo for doing so much or our community. I am a thirty year Western Communities resident and our family would be long gone if it were not for the equestrian industry. Because of it we have a daughter who became interested in horses and is now a vet in a local clinic.

  10. If the village council did backflips and had a special agenda item for the $1350 contribution from the Jacobs, will they have a special float and a Marching Band in the Holiday Parade for this?

    Naw, it’s Bellissimo. Margolis, Willhite and Greene will pass a regulation prohibiting Bellissimo from creating goodwill in addition to jobs and tax revenue – retroactively.

  11. We are fortunate to have the equestrian industry as our neighbor and Mr. Bellissimo a member of the community.

  12. Thank you to Mr. Bellissimo, Mr Hirsch and Ms McCullough for their generous contributions to Wellington and specifically to the children of our community. Those are solid investments!

    Perhaps, these three can heal the rift in our Village and demonstrate to our council, how to work together.

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