It is hard to believe that only twenty-five years ago there were few service options for children and teens who suffered from behavioral, emotional or developmental disorders in Florida. Finding quality services that could make the critical difference in a child’s life was nearly impossible. To this end, Judge Fran Jamieson and Governor Bob Graham reached out to the Devereux Foundation for help. Recognizing the dire need and working with state and local officials, it was quickly decided that Viera would make the perfect location to start the first Devereux Campus in the state.

In keeping with their family’s long tradition of community support, cousins Joseph and John Duda generously donated the present 58 acre site to build a state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital to help Florida’s children. Working diligently with the Duda family, Devereux labored to design and build the campus and buildings, which opened for children and families in 1988.

The Viera campus has become Devereux Florida’s flagship operation. Recognizing the important difference the organization was able to make in just one community, Devereux spent the next 25 years expanding its provision of services. Today, Devereux provides services to children and families in 39 counties throughout Florida. Any given day Devereux offers services to 5,000 children.

Devereux is committing its 25th anniversary year to finalizing the plans and beginning to build the new Viera Campus Wellness, Learning and Activity Center.

Children receiving services from Devereux struggle with so many issues. Whether they have developmental delays, mental or behavioral challenges, suffer from abuse or neglect at the hands of family members or, sadly, a combination of these, they need a holistic care approach to recover and become productive members of our community. In keeping with best practice models and the Devereux Philosophy of Care, plans for the construction of a therapeutic, multi-purpose wellness and activity center are underway. The new Wellness, Learning and Activity Center will function as a centralized service location for over 850 children served by Devereux in Brevard.

In addition to much needed space for physical exercise, this newly renovated building will provide a central location for a variety of critically important therapeutic, vocational, life-skills training and social and communal activities, all designed to enhance the current therapeutic programming for the children. The design will afford an opportunity to local service, civic and community organizations to utilize the facilities for their own special programs and activities. This new center will offer growth and opportunity to the children helped every day, and will serve as the cornerstone of another outstanding 25 years of service to the community.

You can help “light the way for children” on Saturday, December 1 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Brevard Zoo. Guests will enjoy a memorable evening of sparkling lights, enchanting music, gourmet delights and specialty holiday cocktails in the company of good friends. The event program will feature a special presentation honoring Joseph and John Duda, representing the Duda family, for a quarter century of support. Devereux looks forward to another 25 years of service to children and families in Brevard County.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit or contact Patty Hurst at (321) 258-1772.