50th ANNIVERSARY FACT: When a Community Comes Together

November 2nd, 2017

In 1968, the new Collier County Mental Health Clinic was ready to roll, but they needed funding. The community came together to make it happen.

One in a series of articles focusing on the history of David Lawrence Center, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018.

When the Collier County Mental Health Clinic, now the David Lawrence Center, was established in 1968, it desperately needed a few things—like a place to practice, and a psychologist to do the work.

Thus began the long and time-consuming task of documenting the need for mental health services to substantiate the requests for funding. After many months of providing this documentation, a local Naples resident, Donald Stoneburner, donated a small building for the first offices — a gesture that proved to the community the clinic meant business.

But they still needed a doctor and, more importantly, funding. The state did not want to write a check, saying that Collier County should step up to the plate first. County commissioners thought the state should commit first.

Much negotiation took place, and the school board, the county commission, and State Health and Rehabilitation Services came together to provide the important startup funds.

To the joy of all those who had hoped for such services to get started, the county commissioners were all 100 per cent for the funding, despite a time when their views on many issues differed. The county commissioners with such vision were A.C. Hancock, Cliff Wenzel, Les Whitaker, Chairman,Pappy Moore and Jack Kurke.

Once Collier County made its commitment, the state followed suit and agreed to fund the clinic as well. The Collier County Mental Health Clinic opened its doors on October 10, 1969, with three staff members, including a psychiatrist. In time, private donors began supporting the clinic, now known as David Lawrence Center. The process that led to funding the organization and the continued funding by the state and private donors is a testament to the positive change that happens when a community comes together.

Those private donors include generous friends like you. Thank you for your support!

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