Montage Health Foundation in Monterey, California, has announced a gift of $105.8 million from Roberta ("Bertie") Buffett Bialek Elliott, the youngest sister of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
The largest gift ever awarded in Monterey County will support the development of an innovative approach to child and adolescent behavioral health, including construction of a new facility that provides inpatient and outpatient care, early intervention programs, and comprehensive support for local youth and their families. To be called Ohana House — ohana is Hawaiian for "family" — the facility will have up to twenty-four inpatient beds, indoor and outdoor quiet spaces, an outpatient treatment wing, rooms for one-on-one family counseling, educational space for training and workshops, and space for community activities.
According to the California Health Care Foundation, one in thirteen children in California suffers from a mental illness that limits their participation in daily activities, but there are fewer than 1,050 child psychiatrists in California to serve the state's more than nine million children and teens.
Elliott has served on the board of Montage Health, the parent company of Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, and has been a generous supporter of many of its projects, including the hospital's Comprehensive Cancer Center, Family Birth Center, and Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit. She had expressed interest in making a transformational gift to Montage, and after being presented with several options she chose behavioral health services for children and teens.
"It popped right out that this was something that wouldn't happen without a special, big gift," said Elliott. "Montage Health, in general, is one of the few places that touches everyone in our community sooner or later. This benefits the community as a whole."
"Very few people are fortunate enough to be able to give a gift of this size, and there are even fewer who have the vision to fund this particular cause," said Montage Health president and CEO Steven Packer. "Bertie Bialek Elliott said that she was concerned that, if she didn't do it, a transformational gift to fund this needed program might never occur. We are exceedingly grateful for her tremendous generosity and the spirit in which she gave this historic gift."