BRADENTON — She was greeted with smiles and applause Thursday night.
Pat Glass, who was dubbed Manatee County’s “best friend” by one speaker, was honored as the recipient of the Senator Edgar H. Price, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award at Bradenton Municipal Auditorium hosted by the Family Health Care Centers of Manatee Foundation.
“It was an honor to be an elected official because you’re in a position to do a lot of great things,” said Glass, just before the dinner as people came to greet her. “That’s the award itself. This is the icing on the cake.”
Glass was the first woman elected to the Manatee County Board of Commissioners in 1978. She went on to serve on the board for more than 25 years.
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The Price Award is given to someone who has made a difference in the community through public service.
Glass reflected on the sale of Manatee Memorial Hospital when it was county owned, setting up a hospital trust fund and water issues as some of her greatest involvements.
“I don’t think people know how important and how complicated an issue it (water) is,” Glass said. She served on the governing board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Ray Fusco, chief operating officer for Manatee County Rural Health Services, said the organization’s fundraising goal of $100,000 had been exceeded Thursday night after hundreds of attendees paid $100 per plate to attend the Family Health Care Centers of Manatee Foundation’s tribute to Glass. The foundation, which was formed a few years ago, holds events such as Thursday night’s tribute to raise money for future capital projects for infrastructure, he said.
Manatee County Rural Health Services is a non-profit community network of health centers that receives about 12 percent in government funding. Fusco said about 50 percent of people are uninsured and the centers provide care for everyone on a sliding scale basis. Everyone is asked to pay a $15 fee.
“We never turn anyone away. We realize some people don’t even have the $15,” he said. “That’s why the foundation is so important. ... There is a crisis in health care today. We are seeing a greater number of people who don’t have insurance.”
Glass, as the first recipient of award, worked on the Council on Aging, helped create an indigent care fund and was the founder of the AIDS Council of Manatee.
“The only thing I haven’t involved myself in is Afghanistan,” she joked.