Shining a Light On Mental Illness
Joan and Bob Geyer, Academy at Glengary
Joan and Bob Geyer’s pastor once asked, “What community need do you see that’s not being adequately met?” He recommended that people put their efforts where they felt the needs of the community are, explains Joan. For the Geyers, they felt that adults living with mental illness are an underserved population that deserves support.
When Bob and Joan Geyer talk about people struggling with mental health issues, they are obviously passionate. As longtime residents of Sarasota, this philanthropic couple has become known as staunch advocates for those struggling with mental health issues in our community.
Joan says, “Many years ago, the way society often dealt with someone who had a mental illness was to send them away.” She points out that for many health issues, isolation is detrimental to recovery – and mental health is no exception. “Increasing access to highly-trained clinicians and a state-of-the-art facility can be life-changing,” adds Bob.
Joan and Bob attempted to create a mental health “Clubhouse” program – a worldwide network that provides opportunities for friendship, employment, housing, education, and access to medical and psychiatric services – in Sarasota and succeeded in 2015 when they purchased land and began constructing the Academy at Glengary.
Bob and Joan provided the funds for the 8,500-square-foot Academy at Glengary, which opened in 2017. The Academy provides vocational training and support for people who are actively pursuing recovery. There are many success stories about individuals who have become vital members of society while managing their mental health issues.
The Geyers’ vision is one of providing quality services, facilities, and opportunities for mental health recovery. The intention is not to replace clinical services but to enhance them in support of recovery.
At the inception of the Academy, they were joined by 23 community leaders who eventually became founding Academy Ambassadors. They are now spearheading the expansion of Academy services into Manatee County, including remodeling efforts for a new facility in downtown Bradenton that is scheduled to open as Academy at Bradenton in the summer of 2023.