Not long ago, I suffered the devastating loss of a close friend. Immediately after, I received the most welcomed message from Steve Jacobsen, offering me the services of Hospice of Santa Barbara. I’d driven by his organization’s lovely, restored building behind the Riviera Theatre many times on my way to see a movie, but I didn’t know anything about what took place inside.
Hospice of Santa Barbara is a volunteer organization that offers free counseling and services to those who are facing death or the loss of a loved one. They serve more than 700 children and adults every month without receiving support from the government or reimbursement from insurance. They also have a presence on school campuses, ready to counsel any young student.
Steve has been the zen-like executive director since 2008. A UCSB graduate who also earned a master’s of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and then served as a pastor for 27 years in New Jersey, Washington State, and Goleta, he embodies compassion. I treasure the calming effect that a conversation with Steve gives to me.
What is your greatest fear?
Breaking trust with someone I love and respect.
Whom do you most admire?
The older people I have known who have lived through suffering and disappointments but are able to live life as careful listeners and grateful servants while savoring everyday blessings like homemade pie and the chance to look into the eyes of a newborn child.
What is your current state of mind?
Ready for vacation.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Being genuine and without pretense.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Wonderful,” “great,” and “terrific.”
When and where are you the happiest?
At the end of a day at the beach when the light becomes soft … when I am with my wife and family and we are all laughing … looking out the window of a plane as it is landing in a country I have never visited before.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To be able play a musical instrument or sing … to dance half as well as my wife … to surf … to consistently hit long, straight golf shots when others are watching.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having left every organization I have served stronger and healthier than I found it. Raising three terrific daughters and seeing them graduate from college.
What is your most treasured possession?
A Sandy Koufax rookie baseball card given to me by a friend I’ve known for 40 years.
How do you deal with grief?
Feel its ache and let it teach me what I need to learn.
And how do you best console someone who’s lost a loved one?
Acknowledging I may not truly know how they are feeling, but that I feel genuine sorrow for their loss, and then being quiet.