Amid the great blue herons, horse stables, and grad student townhomes near UCSB’s Coal Oil Point Reserve, Devereux California exists as a beacon of hope for the developmentally disabled and their families. Most famous for being the place where Dustin Hoffman perfected his Rain Man character, the Santa Barbara facility began at the current site of Westmont College in 1945 as the West Coast outpost of the Philadelphia school that Helena Devereux founded in Philadelphia in 1912.
For more than a half century, Devereux served clients of all ages, but state and federal changes to laws regarding youth treatment in 2008 shifted the organization’s focus to those 18 years old and up. (Similar statewide Devereux facilities exist in 12 other states.) “With the type of health care our clients receive now, they are living longer and are much happier,” said Pat Kistler, who serves on the advisory board, and explained that a new building called Somerset will be focused on serving the older population of clients.
Kistler got to know the facility while volunteering for Special Olympics over the years but got more involved when her grandson was born with a developmental disability. “My heart returned to Devereux,” said Kistler. “I joined the local advisory board to see what I could do to keep this facility strong and ready to accept continuing and new clients in the future.”
Given the questionable funding for Devereux and similar facilities by the state and federal government, Kistler’s board decided to host Art & Soul, the facility’s first ever fundraiser. It’s this Saturday, January 28, 4-7 p.m., at the Deckers Rotunda (6601 Hollister Ave.) in Goleta, where attendees can listen to live music, eat and drink, and purchase art and products from Deckers. Tickets are $50 in advance, $60 at the door.