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Devereux Hosts a Hootenanny to Celebrate Its 100-Year Anniversary

Barbecue, bluegrass and a pair of proclamations highlight Devereux Day 2012

Devereux Day 2012 marked “100 years of caring” for Devereux Santa Barbara, a local provider of quality behavioral health treatment and special education services. Residents, students, their families, staff and former staff, and old and new friends of Devereux celebrated with an old-fashioned hootenanny on the grounds of the facility located at the end of Storke Road off Old Slough Road in Goleta.

Devereux California, part of a national organization, provides programs for adults and elders with developmental and intellectual disabilities and/or emotional disorders, neurological impairments and autism. Programs include campus-based residential services, adult day services and respite services, community-based supported living and independent living services.

Smiles were seen all around as a couple of hundred guests enjoyed the tunes of The Slough Blues All-Volunteer Band, which included Gary Engle, Jesse Hunt and Essmael Canizalez, and performed under a big white canopy near the eucalyptus grove. Games included a bean-bag toss and noisy can knock-down. Souvenir photos were available, and artwork and plants were on sale. Members of the adult day program grew and potted the plants in the Devereux greenhouse.

A short program preceded the barbecue tri-tip and chicken lunch in the ‘big tent’. A video produced by Adult Program director Marina Ross was shown; it featured hundreds of photos of Devereux students in action and participating in special Fiesta and Italian celebrations — all to the music of “Oh What a Feeling!”

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider presented Devereux California’s executive director, Amy Evans, with a proclamation that lauded the organization for “its high-quality programs that encourage residents to be the best they can be.”

“I can see all the love and care here today,” Schneider said. “Devereux is a great part of our community.”

Evans said Devereux has met and exceeded its budget for the year.

“There were cuts from the state of California, but not as much as we expected,” she noted.

A moment of silence was observed in memory of Peter, a 50-year Devereux resident. A new local advisory board is also being created, including Hootenanny participants Melissa Fitch and Alex Duran.

“Devereux is the largest nonprofit in the City of Goleta, and we are glad they are here,” said Goleta Mayor Ed Easton, who also presented a celebratory plaque to Evans. Bob Kreider, president and CEO of the national Devereux organization, travelled from his office in Philadelphia to help celebrate the centennial event at Devereux Santa Barbara.

In Goleta style, the good ‘ole down-home cookin’ lunch fare was prepared by the Goodland Kitchen & Market in Old Town Goleta. Sliced watermelon, grapes and strawberries were featured as the healthy dessert. Later in the afternoon, Peter Feldmann and the Mother’s Boys provided live bluegrass music under the canopy.

The woman behind the carefully orchestrated Devereux Day was Janis Johnson, Devereux Santa Barbara’s external affairs manager who announced her retirement from the program after 21 years.

“This is my last Devereux Day,” she said.

Devereux began in 1945 as “the Devereux Ranch School” and became a premier provider of services to individuals with disabilities and their families. Helena T. Devereux, or “Miss Devereux,” a pioneer in the fields of special educational and residential treatment, traveled by train from Pennsylvania to expand her programs to the West Coast. She found an ideal setting in Santa Barbara, the blufftop Campbell Ranch overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The Campbell Manor was surrounded by acres of wooded groves, sand dunes, estuaries and meadows. The Manor, now a historic landmark, served as the main administrative headquarters for Devereux California for more than 60 years.

Now the administrative headquarters is at Jacobs House on the North Knoll of the Santa Barbara campus. In Santa Barbara, campus-based, residential living provides the optimal setting for 27 residents, while others enjoy fully or semi-independent group homes and apartments in nearby neighborhoods. Elderly or retired persons can remain active with hobbies, projects or field trips in the Life Enrichment Program.

“For much of history, families living with mental, emotional and developmental disabilities suffered in silence,” Devereux commemorative literature states. “Often without hope, they struggled to fit into society, their energies drained by the challenges of daily life, their family members hidden from view. Cast aside by communities lacking understanding — shunned, rather than embraced — theirs was a world lived in silence.

“Since 1912, however, thanks to the vision of a young Philadelphia school teacher, Helena T. Devereux, families have found hope and a voice for their loved ones at an organization devoted to teaching and nurturing individuals with special needs. Over the past century, the small classroom Miss Devereux founded 100 years ago for ‘special’ children has blossomed from a single school into a multifaceted national organization where dedicated staff bring hope to the nation. Devereux today enables individuals across the country with developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges to find their place in the world as they develop their potential and live happier, healthier lives than anyone thought possible a century ago.”

“Devereux was founded by a remarkable woman who, when society was forcing education to be standardized, was arguing that every child is a program and taking an individualized approach,” said former Rep. Sam Coppersmith, D-Ariz., and chairman of the Devereux Board of Trustees. “This philosophy was borne out by history, but it wasn’t instinctive. This story needs to be told.”

Click here for more information on Devereux Santa Barbara, or call 805.968.2525.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews, @NoozhawkBiz and @NoozhawkSociety. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook and Noozhawk on Pinterest.

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