Address: 625 Chapala Street
Status: Not for sale
The timeless adage “home is where the heart is” couldn’t be more evident than at Jodi House, a nonprofit brain injury support center in downtown Santa Barbara. At Jodi House, brain injury survivors and their families find the support they need as they navigate life with a brain injury, adjust to their “new normal,” and reintegrate into the community. An estimated 25,000 Santa Barbara County residents are either living with a brain injury or providing care to a loved one who has suffered a brain injury due to a stroke, an aneurysm, or a traumatic event such as a car accident.
I was first introduced to Jodi House by touring the house itself last year. The distinctive Victorian building at 625 Chapala Street was built in 1875 and has seen many changes under its roof. It was home to Chad’s Restaurant, a favorite local hotspot from 1992 until 2008. Jodi House has been in existence since 1982 but moved into its current home on Chapala in 2010, two years after Chad’s shut its doors. The façade of the two-story Victorian was a bright pink during Chad’s tenure but is now a warm blue gray with golden-yellow trim. From Monday through Friday, the front door is open to brain injury survivors in our community, a population that is not always as visible as others in need.
On Thursday, September 27, Jodi House hosted its inaugural fall luncheon to raise support and awareness of brain injury and how Jodi House helps. “Jodi House is the only organization in Santa Barbara County that is solely dedicated to providing support to brain injury survivors and their caregivers,” says Lindsey Fry, executive director. “We have a responsibility to help educate the community about brain injury and the services Jodi House provides.”
Jodi House’s first-ever Community Partner Award was presented to local neurologist Dr. Philip Delio, who has long been an active supporter of Jodi House. “I firmly believe that the breadth of services offered at Jodi House give patients with stroke and traumatic brain injury the best chance at recovery,” said Dr. Delio, who serves as chief of staff at Cottage Hospital.
Delio studied at Stanford and came to Santa Barbara in 2001. He established the stroke program at Cottage Hospital and helped Cottage become the first Joint Commission certified stroke center on the Central Coast. A medical advisor to Jodi House, Delio advocates the importance of head-injury prevention as well as recognition of the signs and symptoms of concussive head injury.
While Delio won the award, the other key speaker at the luncheon stole the show. In 2005, 24-year-old Leo Rojas was a college student attending Pepperdine University until one night in November of that year when he fell asleep at the wheel, drove off a cliff, and was ejected from his car. The accident almost took his life. He suffered numerous broken bones, internal injuries, and a traumatic brain injury. Leo wasn’t expected to live; a priest even administered the last rites. However, after weeks in the ICU and months in a rehab center, Leo was discharged. He calls learning to live life with a brain injury the turning point in his life. As he described, “You know that feeling when you’re lost? I mean really, really lost. That hopeless feeling like being a lost kid at Disneyland, just wandering around aimlessly, praying for help. Jodi House was that good person who came along to help me on my way.”
Leo now has a beautiful daughter, has graduated from college, and volunteers at Jodi House. He said he feels “like my life has come full circle now. I’m helping someone get better just like all those people helped me get better, and it feels good.”
The services at Jodi House encourage physical, cognitive, and behavioral recovery regardless of members’ ability to pay. Jodi House offers classes in topics such as music therapy, healthy cooking, communication skills, art therapy, yoga, and much more. Case management services for brain injury survivors and support groups for both survivors and their caregivers provide structure and a safe environment for goal setting and progress.
Ever since my first tour through Jodi House, the caring atmosphere has been infectious. The Victorian at 625 Chapala is a historic house with a lot of character, but the important work being done inside most certainly makes this house a home. Community members who would like to learn more about Jodi House’s services or make a contribution are invited to contact Lindsey Fry, executive director, at (805) 845-2858, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.