Underwater - November/December 2010 - (Page 45)

greenstone Innovator, Philanthropist, Diver, Teacher Leonard Greenstone’s Contributions to Our World BY STEPHEN GREEN FOR LEONARD GREENSTONE, “IT’S THE greatest feeling in the world to contribute to society and watch it change people’s behavior and attitudes.” And at age 87, he’s still at it: promoting safety training for commercial divers, innovation in the construction industry, philanthropy to aid sick and underprivileged people and vocational training for people in prisons. In the latter field, his crowning achievement has been the establishment of the world’s only training center for inmates seeking to become commercial divers. Those who earn certification from what is now known as the Leonard Greenstone Marine Technology Training Center in Chino, Calif., have jobs in the industry before they leave prison. “Our training is so intense that inmates have priority hiring in the industry,” said Fred Johnson who runs the program at the California Institution for Men. Greenstone, however, is the first to admit training great divers is not the Training Center’s primary goal. “These programs are tools to get these guys to change what I call their habits,” he said. “People who learn good job skills that lead to productive employment come out of prison very determined. They have acquired new social and psychological attitudes. They turn out to be good employees.” Greenstone knows what it’s like to experience life from the bottom rung. The Los Angeles native dropped out of high school to help support his family, working part-time in the plumbing and electrical trades. When World War II broke out, he enlisted in the Navy and was sent to Pearl Harbor where he was trained as a salvage diver on the sunken ships. “I wasn’t even a swimmer,” Greenstone recalled. “I just played in the water. But I found direction that has shaped a life’s work.” Before long, Greenstone was training other divers. As the war deepened, he was sent to New York City and trained divers salvaging the Normandie, a luxury cruise ship that caught fire and sunk in the harbor while being converted to a troop ship. After the war, Greenstone returned to Los Angeles and tried making a career as a professional boxer. But working days and training and boxing nights were a formidable challenge. “I had to admit my boxing career wasn’t going anywhere,” he said. Over the years, he established successful businesses in mechanical contracting; plumbing, heating and refrigeration contracting; general contracting; and in diving construction. But from the beginning, there were always profits to share. One of his companies donated and installed the plumbing system in a home for blind children. They did work for the YMCA and other groups working on behalf of disadvantaged youths. There also were major gifts to the City of Hope Hospital in Los Angeles and the Children’s Hospital of Denver. And there was time for Greenstone to launch another career. He became a reserve Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff and trained officers in aquatic searches and rescues. After 25 years, he retired as a captain and commander of the Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Underwater Search and Rescue Company, #218. “There was a lot of night work,” he said. “In the early days, they were using my boats when there were plane crashes,” he said. In 1961, Greenstone had another epiphany. His wife’s cousin worked in educational programs at San Quentin Prison. He invited Greenstone to visit the prison and discuss the potential to expand vocational training, of which there was very little. While there, Death Row inmates took a young correctional officer hostage and demanded to be released. Greenston’s cousin was one of the emergency responders and “I just kind of tagged along,” Greenstone said. “At one point,” Greenstone continued, “I heard the captive officer say: Don’t negotiate with them. They’re going to kill me anyway.” ‘Suddenly, everything changed,” Greenstone said. “You could feel a new focus to the standoff and they eventually let the officer go. I had a feeling that maybe all these inmates have something down there you can work with. Soon afterwards, Greenstone met with the prison’s threeman plumbing staff. He got them better tools and gave them instruction in plumbing codes. And a new vocational program was born. For Greenstone, it was the first of many. And many of them were innovative. As early as 1965, Greenstone had launched a program train inmates to build and install solar collectors. He would often donate tools and equipment, and solicit friends to do the same. continued on pg 46 www.adc-int.org ■ www.underwatermagazine.com UnderWater 45 http://www.adc-int.org http://www.underwatermagazine.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Underwater - November/December 2010

Underwater - November/December 2010
Board of Directors
President’s Message
Executive Director’s Message
Guessing Game
The Saturation Situation
Got It Covered?
9th Annual MATE International Student Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Competition
Innovator, Philanthropist, Diver, Teacher
Underwater Intervention 2011
New Gear
Advertisers Index
ADCI Member Company Listings

Underwater - November/December 2010