Home to more than 1,500 adults since 1974, Saint Francis Manor offers limited-income Indian River County seniors a unique blend of affordability, comfort, and community.
In 1972, the St. Vincent De Paul Society agreed with realtor Frank Zorc's concern for the growing population of elderly. The Society provided seed money to explore a solution.
The solution was a project to be built in stages. The goal was to build a facility using private funding for seniors on limited incomes. It was decided to operate as a not-for-profit organization. The name "St. Francis Manor" was suggested and later adopted by a board of directors.
Beyond the seed money, the committee had no funds. James T. Vocelle, local attorney and political activist, became a director and for more than 20 years provided legal services at no charge. The committee pursued a low-cost long term lease from the County for a beautiful five-acre site between 20th Avenue and 17th Avenue. The site was located by aerial observation by Frank’s son, Bill, in a small plane. It was a jungle of brush and big trees which yielded an excellent land site.
A 99-year lease from the county was signed and a commitment of temporary financing for two buildings soon came forth.
In October 1974 the first 12 unit building was dedicated. All buildings were built with substantial in-kind contributions from local contractors. In October 1976 the third 12 unit building and the dining/recreation building was dedicated with a joyful crowd attending.
In October 1981, the last 12 unit building was completed making a total of 98 units that continued to serve the housing needs of many senior citizens. No state or federal funds were used to build St. Francis Manor.
Since its inception more than 1,500 residents have called St. Francis Manor home. SFM currently serves 120 residents by providing security, comfort, a beautiful natural environment, and most important, independent living at the lowest cost possible.
During 2008-2009, the John's Island Foundation rebuilt a boardwalk around the perimeter of the pond, providing a one/sixth mile track for resident enjoyment and exercise. The older section was replaced; new lighting and benches were added. Also in 2009, all buildings were repainted cheerful yellow.
In 2018 we dedicated two new buildings. Offering double rooms as well as singles, the new buildings are state-of-the-art, hurricane-code structures. The buildings resulted from years of planning, culminating in a two-year capital campaign raising $2,025,000.
After 18 years of excellent service, Executive Director Linda Scott took a well-deserved retirement. She was replaced in 2019 by Bonnie Matz.
And more affordable housing is needed. As the senior population of Indian River County continues to grow, so does our waiting list.
We stand committed to expanding our service to our seniors.