Last Thursday, nearly 150 people gathered at Jodi House’s charming Victorian House at 625 Chapala Street for “The Reunion, It’s a Local Thing,” where they experienced a nostalgic evening while raising funds for this critically important brain injury support center. Enthusiasm ran high among those who reminisced about the good times at Chad’s, a very popular restaurant located at this location until about 10 years ago.
Guests traded stories about Chad’s banana suit and conga line, plastic monkeys in the drinks, and the great food, drinks, and bands. The party stretched throughout the two buildings and spacious grounds, with bands that used to play at Chad’s providing lively tunes: Tom Ball & Kenny Sultan, Jason Campbell, and the Brian Kinsella Band. KEYT’s John Palminteri served as emcee for the short program and rallied the crowd during the live auction. Tasty gourmet food donated from a host of area food purveyors abounded.
Enthusiasm for supporting Jodi House ran just as high as it did for reminiscing about Chad’s. This nonprofit organization helps brain injury survivors and their families cope with the behavioral, emotional and social effects of the injury. It offers a wide array of classes, one-on-one and group emotional support, and full case management services. Jodi House also offers resources and support to families and other caregivers.
Jodi House is one of seven service providers that receive funding from the California Department of Rehabilitation to serve adults with traumatic brain injury. While this is a significant source of funding, private sources of funding are critical for its operation.
Founded in 1982 by families of adults suffering from brain injuries, Jodi House served about 100 “members” last year. Program Director Susan Cass explained that after all the hospital and doctors visits brain injury survivors have been through when they get to Jodi House, they have been “patients” long enough, so Jodi House calls them “members” to foster a sense of belonging and inclusiveness.
Members pay a one-time enrollment fee of $25 and then there is a monthly sliding scale fee, which is even waived when necessary. Seventy percent of those served are low-income or have no income and nobody is turned away for an inability to pay. Members are eligible to participate in any of about 30 classes offered each month on a drop-in basis. Classes such as yoga and dance promote physical balance and strength, while other classes address cognitive function and memory improvement.
Emotional support is provided on a one-on-one basis and through support groups. Cass emphasizes the importance of building relationships to gain members’ trust so her staff, volunteers, and peers can be this source of support. Referrals are made to licensed counselors where appropriate.
Jodi House also offers extensive case management services that address practical matters such as disability benefits, housing, transportation, and employment.
The Santa Barbara facility is open to anyone, regardless of geographic location. Jodi House offers a small program in Solvang, meeting once per week at the Bethania Lutheran Church for class activities and a peer support group. Jodi House also has two case managers in Ventura County and one in San Luis Obispo County, who provide case management services in those areas.
According to Cass, it is very important after brain injury victims go through the continuum of care that there be support and resources for them, and this is even more critical for those without families. Cass related how she has heard from many people across the country and in other countries that Jodi House is unique. The greater Santa Barbara community is blessed to have this valuable resource right here.
One very grateful family is the Liebermans. Jesse, age 28, had a malignant brain tumor at age 9 and then three years ago suffered a severe stroke leading to a traumatic brain injury. His father, Donny Lieberman, shared that “Jodi House is a place of peace, respite, inclusion, and comfort for persons struggling with brain injury and their families. Susan Cass and her team are beyond devoted to the mission and we don’t know what we’d do without their ongoing support and advocacy for our son.”
Cass welcomes inquiries and is happy to arrange a tour of the facility for any interested community member. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805 845 1073. For more info, go to jodihouse.org.
By Gail Arnold