MANATEE — Manatee Glens invited past board members back to celebrate the nonprofit group’s 55 years of providing mental health and addiction services in an afternoon ceremony Wednesday.
One of those board members is making sure there will be a bright future for Manatee Glens and the 12,000 patients treated at its facilities each year.
JoAnne Duke, who served on the board for 40 years, unveiled the Duke Legacy Fund, a donor-driven account that will support Manatee Glens when times get tough.
“We never had enough money,” Duke, 79, said of her time on the board, which ended with her retirement four years ago. “That was always our biggest problem. Just about the time it looks like you’ve got everything going well, you get new people in Tallahassee who are not interested in your programs.”
Manatee Glens receives the majority of its funding from the state of Florida, which ranks 49th out of 50 states in mental health spending, Manatee Glens President and Chief Executive Officer Mary Ruiz said.
Duke donated proceeds from the sale of the 300-acre family farm in Parrish that she shared with her late husband, Dr. Joe Duke, to start the fund.
“It dawned on me when we sold the farm that was the first time I had enough money to give away like that,” Duke said. “I thought, ‘I would much rather give that money to Manatee Glens than I would to the IRS.’ ”
Ruiz and former board member Eleanor B. Perkins have pledged a portion of their estates to the legacy fund as well. Ruiz declined to reveal the size of the donations. She said Manatee Glens plans to let the fund build before deciding the best use for it.
“Hopefully one day, if it gets large enough, we don’t have to choose between providing a service or digging into our savings and putting the organization at risk. We can offer services with some stability and choose the services the community needs,” Ruiz said.
About 25 past and current board members attended Wednesday’s ceremony, which included a tour of the Manatee Glens Hospital & Addiction Center.
Ruiz recounted the history of the organization, which began in 1955 with three employees and has grown to employ 450. Manatee Glens now features the hospital and addiction center, a walk-in center, two psychiatric and counseling centers and the safe children coalition.
Manatee Glens has been an innovator as well. Its outpatient detox center and 24-hour behavioral walk-in clinic were the first of their kinds in Florida.
“It is a tribute to the board because that meant they had to be willing to take some risks. ... What this board has never lost sight of, no matter who’s on the board or how long they’re on it, is we have to figure out a way. Manatee County counts on us,” Ruiz said.