Generous Donors Give the Gift of Art

By Donna Wick, Executive Director
Simi Valley Hospital Foundation

Most people are lucky if they can count a handful of instances in which they have touched the lives of others. Jeff and Linda Jarvis have had an impact on thousands of people, and they continue to do so with the largest donation of artwork ever received by Simi Valley Hospital. With this donation, Jeff and Linda have given the gift of healing and wellness to countless patients, visitors and staff.

Like most art collectors, the Jarvises bought what they liked—and what they liked just happen to be widely acknowledged works that are among the finest of our time, from artists such as H. Claude Pissaro, Sassone, Luongo and others. The paintings reflect their passion for art, where grand, romantic landscapes and people appear larger than life.

Returning Kindness

This amazing donation is the result of the excellent care the Jarvises say Simi Valley Hospital extended to Jeff’s mother, Alma Jarvis, over the past few years.

“It was a very difficult time for us,” Linda recalls. “Jeff’s mother had been an extremely independent woman, so after much persuasion, we convinced her to come and live with us in our Wood Ranch home. She was with us for just one day, then she fell and broke her hip. She was rushed to Simi Valley Hospital, where she received excellent care from Dr. Rashkin [Alan Rashkin, MD] and the entire staff.”

Eventually, Alma entered rehabilitation.

“We can’t say enough wonderful things about the rehab nurses and staff at Simi Valley Hospital,” Linda says. “They allowed us to bring in a full Thanksgiving dinner and really thought outside the box when it came to Alma’s therapy.”

After six weeks of rehabilitation, Alma returned home. Unfortunately, she re-injured the same hip in 2004. When paramedics arrived at the Jarvises’ home to transport Alma, she was lucid and feisty. However, during the short ride to Simi Valley Hospital, she began passing in and out of consciousness and became confused. This time, Jeff and Linda learned, Alma had shattered her hip, and they realized that this injury was more serious than the previous one.

Unending Consideration

Recounting Alma’s last days of life, Jeff and Linda are slow to speak. Linda pauses to ask Jeff if he is OK before she continues.

“We knew, given her age and health, that she would not have long,” Linda says. “We hoped for the best, but we knew it was over.”

An apparent blood clot was responsible for Alma’s passing.

A couple of years later, it was Jeff who needed Simi Valley Hospital after he lost consciousness.

“It was the most frightening experience,” Linda recalls. “I looked at Jeff and immediately knew something was wrong.”

When the Jarvises arrived at Simi Valley Hospital, Linda pleaded with the Emergency Department nurses, “Please don’t let my husband go in that room—those are the same doors that my mother-in-law entered and did not return from.”

The nurses obliged and placed Jeff in a different room. When the diagnosis came, Linda and Jeff learned that it was dehydration that had brought him to the hospital.

“I got busy and neglected to drink enough water,” Jeff says. He points to the iced tea in front of him and jokes, “This stuff isn’t so great for hydration, you know.”

Building Relationships

Getting to know the Jarvises has been a wonderful experience for us in the Simi Valley Hospital Foundation. They are the type of people who give and want nothing in return. They are reluctant to be acknowledged for their generosity and, at first, hesitate at my request to sit down with them to discuss their wonderful gift.

I learn that Jeff was introduced to Linda in 1972 at her birthday party.

“We sat in the car and talked until the sun came up,” Linda recalls with a smile.

Married in 1975, the Jarvises have two adult children, 29-year-old Jordan and 26-year-old Jarrod. They recently welcomed their first grandchild into the family. Linda admits they are busier than ever.

Jeff and Linda’s most striking quality is their authenticity; they are the most unassuming, genuine people I’ve ever come to know. They have a tremendous sensibility for and appreciation of art, and they simply wanted to share their passion with us. I don’t think they realize the weight and significance of this remarkable gift or how it has positively affected all of us.

Although Jeff and Linda have made contributions in the past to other organizations, they tell me that those gifts were nothing of this size. They had come to a point in their lives when they were ready to downsize. They had found the perfect home, but they knew that they would not be able to take all their beloved art pieces with them. That’s when they thought of Simi Valley Hospital, and to quote a cliché, the rest is history. Since then, I’ve had the difficult—but exhilarating—task of choosing which pieces will go where in the hospital.

Getting to know Jeff and Linda has caused all of us here to ask ourselves: “What can I do to make a difference in my community? What will my family’s legacy be? How will I be remembered?”

These are questions well worth pondering.

Learn how your gift can make a difference in the lives of Simi Valley Hospital patients and their loved ones. Call the Simi Valley Hospital Foundation at 805-955-8144.

Fall 2007