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Jodi House Hosts Inaugural Fall Luncheon Raises Funds for Brain Injury Services

Dr. Philip Delio, medical director of Cottage Health's Stroke Services, receives Jodi House Community Partner Award


Jodi House, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit brain injury support center, hosted an inaugural Fall Luncheon on Sept. 27 at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club.

More than 100 supporters gathered upstairs at the club and helped increase awareness of brain injury and to support the services that Jodi House provides to brain injury survivors and their caregivers.

The organization was founded in the early 1980s in response to 19-year-old college student Jodi Wustman, who suffered a devastating brain injury after being hit by a drunken driver. Finding no programs to support her after hospitalization, Wustman sank deeper into isolation for lack of contact with peers and mentally stimulating activities.

In 1982, Wustman’s parents got together with relatives of other adults suffering from brain injuries and mobilized resources to create a supportive and stimulating place for their loved ones. By 1994, Jodi House had a permanent location in Santa Barbara.

“I remember Jodi Wustman, Jodi House’s namesake, before and after her accident,” luncheon attendee Carol Kallman told Noozhawk. “The services of Jodi House were very helpful to her as well as so many other brain injury patients.”

Jodi House member Leo Rojas spoke to the luncheon crowd, and described his long journey to recovery after a horrific car crash on the California coast.

“I was a student at Pepperdine University and was doing all the things that college students do — studying, making friends and enjoying life,” he said. “A car accident landed me on the bottom of a cliff; no one thought I could survive. I broke my pelvis, a leg and many bones, sliced my liver and spleen, and suffered a traumatic head injury.

“It’s the phone call that no mother wants to get.”

Rojas was hospitalized in the intensive-care unit for months afterward, but he survived the wreck and his bones eventually healed.

“But I needed help for many years to deal with the brain injury,” he said. “At Jodi House, I was with others who experienced what I had experienced. Today, I am working and happy to have my family here, including my 11-year-old daughter.”

Jodi House Fall Luncheon
Jodi House member and luncheon speaker Leo Rojas with his mother, Rocio Rojas. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

Then, the Jodi House Community Partner Award was presented to Dr. Philip Delio, a renowned neurologist and medical director of Stroke Services at Cottage Health. He was recognized for his commitment to improving health outcomes for brain injury survivors.

Delio has been a key advocate for Jodi House’s program and formerly served on the organization’s medical advisory board. He came to Santa Barbara in 2001 after finishing his training in neurology at Stanford University, where he specialized in cerebrovascular disease and stroke.

“I feel like I should be giving this award to Jodi House!” Delio exclaimed. “So many of my patients tell me how helpful the services of Jodi House toward their recovery are.”

The event was sponsored by The Independent. In-kind donors included Deckers Outdoor Corp., Evolutions Medical & Day Spa, Hilltop Flowers, Lure Films, Metropolitan Theatres, Myriad Flowers, Riviera Towel Co., Rooted Vine Tours, Salon Patine, The Upham Hotel and others.

Board members were out in full force to support the event, including president Sarah Sinclair, vice president David Edelman, treasurer Kristin Chambers, secretary Daniella Scioscia-Regencia, Andrew Chung, Jim Cook, Adam Harcourt, Jim Marston and Tim Morton-Smith.

“Jodi House is the only organization in Santa Barbara County that is exclusively providing support services to brain injury survivors,” executive director Lindsey Fry said. “We take the responsibility to help educate the greater Santa Barbara community about brain injury and our support services, and this luncheon provides a key opportunity to do so.”

Jodi House empowers brain injury survivors not to merely survive but thrive by providing classes and services that encourage their physical, cognitive and behavioral recovery, regardless of their ability to pay. Jodi House is the only nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara County exclusively providing rehabilitation, community reintegration and case management services to adult survivors of brain injury.

Jodi House, located at 625 Chapala St., offers a Day Program and a Caregiver Support Program, both designed to assist brain injury survivors, their families and caregivers in developing coping strategies for living with the lingering effects of a brain injury through participation in a supportive and accepting community setting.

Click here for more information about Jodi House, or contact Fry at 805.845.2858 or [email protected].

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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