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A Place to Call Home: The Heron Groundbreaking  

  • Post category:Florida

By Rebecca Hernandez, Creative Services Manager 

A sense of excitement and anticipation filled the air as guests arrived at The Heron on Coco Plum Drive in Marathon, Florida. Despite the sweltering heat typical of the Keys this time of year beginning to set in, the spirit of camaraderie and the prospect of meaningful change prevailed, overshadowing any discomfort from the weather. 

WestCare teammates from The Heron, Guidance/Care center, The Village South, and Foundation worked together to put the final touches on the ceremony site as community members and leaders gathered to mark this significant milestone; The rebuild of The Heron would be officially underway. 

As the only state-licensed Assisted Living Facility (ALF) with a Limited Mental Health license covering 123 miles in The Florida Keys. The Heron has been a sanctuary for adults with chronic and persistent mental illness for 37 years… and its more than a facility; it’s a home. In fact, 14 adults call The Heron home, and there they have a stable environment, where they can find solace, be a welcomed member of a supportive community, and remain close to their families while under the supervision of professionals.    

Representative Jim Mooney, COO of the Florida Region of WestCare, Frank Rabbito, Community Action Council Member, Michael Cunningham, Monroe County Commissioner, David Rice, Senior Vice President, Maureen Dunleavy, and Lt. Lissette Quintero.

The groundbreaking ceremony brought together dedicated leaders and community advocates to speak on behalf of The Heron. Among them were Maureen Dunleavy, Senior VP of the Guidance/Care Center; Clare Condra, Administrator of The Heron; Sherry Reed from the Community Action Council; State Representative Jim Mooney; Robyn Still, Mayor of Marathon; Frank Rabbito, Chief Operations Officer for the Florida Region at WestCare; and David Rice, Monroe County Commissioner.    

Sherry Reed speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Sherry Reed, also a long-time community member of The Keys, shared how The Heron has impacted her own family on a very personal level. She remembered the day she brought her son to The Heron and reflected on the welcome she received from the Administrator, Clare Condra. “In her darling accent, Clare said, ’We are so happy for your son to be joining us.’ It was the first time I remember someone saying they were happy our boy would be there.” she said.  

The essence of The Heron is its commitment to providing not just a place to live, but a place to thrive. Mental health facilities like The Heron offer vital services that help individuals lead more stable and fulfilling lives, and this rebuild speaks volumes about the surrounding community’s dedication to making sure mental health care is available in their neighborhoods… not just for themselves, but for their neighbors, for their friends, and for their families. 

The rebuild of The Heron is a call to action for the entire community. We invite all members, stakeholders, and supporters to contribute to this transformative project. Your involvement is key to ensuring that affordable, permanent mental health housing and essential services continue to be available for those who need them most. 

To support The Heron’s rebuild and learn more about how you can contribute, please contact: Maureen Dunleavy, Regional Senior Vice President (305) 896-5964 | 

Together, we can create a brighter, more supportive future for all.