support Jennifer Hodges and kids
Jennifer's three remarkable children are being supported through this by their father, grandfather and loving church and school community. We are asking you to reflect on what Jennifer has meant to you and help us expand that community of love and support through this campaign. As her close friends, we are trying to see this tragic situation as an opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we are in own lives and for having known this remarkable woman. We know many of you have met with great success in your lives and we hope you will take this opportunity to give generously.
Jennifer is still at the Skilled Nursing Facility where she permanently resides. She shares a room with much older people, one of whom is comatose and the other alert but seemingly deaf bc her TV is always at top volume. I’m not going to sugar coat this- she spends most of her time in bed with occasional visits from family, her three wonderful children (triplets) and aides. He father flies out often from Washington DC. Her two daughters and son live with their father SSF. Each one is a beautiful extension of her. unfortunately, as is typical with this kind of injury, jennifer has suffered bouts of pneumonia winter and Spring of 2018 and we were saddened and shocked to see that she has had to have a tracheotomy in order to help her breathe and that she hadn’t been outside of her room (except when she was in the hospital) since late spring of 2018. We visited January 2019. Can you imagine being stuck in bed unable to feel sunlight for over 6 months? Another unfortunate side effect of the pneumonia is that she was never fully taught how to utilize the communication device so generously donated by our Kent classmate, Jennifer Martin Brooks.
In spite of all this, Jennifer was beyond thrilled to see all of us walk into her room. Her huge Kent banner ( which I think she stole) hangs proudly above her bed alongside photos of those she loves. Jennifer greeted us with her big smile and knew EXACTLY who we were. She is as smart and sharp as ever and her wonderful sense of humor is alive and well. We had some laughs and all did our best to communicate. She has been on a feeding tube since her tragic accident years ago. She hasn’t had the pleasure of enjoying a meal or tasting anything. Her TBI ( traumatic brain injury) has left her without the ability to be independent in any way. She can’t walk or talk or care for herself. But she is 100% the Jennifer who I have known and loved for almost my entire life. She is warm, loving, inquisitive and passionate. She held my hand and gazed into my eyes, barely able to mouth “I love you” but she did it! She has minimal use of her finger and is able to point to letters on a board where she puts her thoughts and feelings together. Though she has suffered what many would consider a fate worse than death, Jennifer is here in body, mind and spirit, and she still has her sense of humor albeit dirty at times! She had me laughing as she always did and our connection was no different than it was.
I miss her more than ever. I held her warm hand, sat close by her side and just spent quality time with my friend. We looked at photos of all of us from our Kent days and Maura and I read to her old letters she had written to us on her travels around the world.
Simply put Jennifer was always larger than life. She lived her life to its fullest ALL THE TIME. I don’t know many people who are able to do this. Her life as she knew it was cut short due to her tragic life altering fall from a cliff. However, I now believe she is here with us for a reason. Jennifer was stripped of everything yet, she is the Jennifer we always knew and loved with so much more to give and receive. I have truly witnessed the strength and magic of the spirit as I sat quietly with her in the sun. I truly believe this story has another ending. There is really only one major obstacle keeping her from her ability to share herself, her experience locked in her body and stuck in a home forever and that is her ability to truly communicate in a more fluid and freer way.
Unfortunately she has not had the proper support and instruction to really take advantage of the device so generously donated by Jennifer Martin Brooks. One of our goals for 2019 is to make that happen because Jennifer is not finished talking - we believe she has a lot more to say and do!! One way to achieve this goal is to privately hire a therapist trained in this area to teach her. She is so eager and willing and I believe able to learn this language just like she learned Chinese.
My amazing friend, I love you deeply and miss you so much. It was too painful to admit but being with you made me feel it.
I hope everyone who loves you reads this and realizes that you are with us today. You haven’t gone anywhere. We just need to give you the opportunity to continue sharing all of you to the lucky ones who are willing to receive.
I ask your friends to please visit, write to you, email you and try to face head on this very otherworldly place where you reside and give you the opportunity to move beyond your broken body and the walls of that room you are basically imprisoned in by getting your communication device tweaked so that it can be FULLY utilized. We believe that will give you the freedom to live more fully but it is a work in progress and one that requires money and attention. It is possible, we just need to get you there!!
We love you Jennifer.
Just wanted to let folks know that I had a chance to visit with Jennifer on the Friday after Thanksgiving, while visiting relatives on the west coast. It was a really nice opportunity to catch up with Jennifer and to see how she is doing. Let me start off by saying how beautiful she is and that she was vibrant and upbeat. I entered her shared room (2 other roommates) just as her aid was leaving so we had a chance to speak for a few minutes and I got to see how much love and caring this woman provides for Jennifer. Although Jennifer cannot speak, they are able to communicate easily and I watched Jennifer kiss this woman’s hand twice before she left, so I know that there is a strong bond with a lot of appreciation and respect. Can we get an AMEN from the group on having wonderful and delightful support staff?
Jennifer made me appreciate again how special she is. We talked and had some funny moments. She uses a cardboard letter board with some phrases on the side to communicate and it was slow going at first, although the pace picked up as I got use to her idea flow. She spelled out “Thursday and the Friday, Sat and Sunday” and then typed “Sports”. She then typed “UGH”. I was reading this out loud to confirm so I guess her two roommates heard me say that she disliked having to watch sports, day after day. I am sure Jennifer set me up to say that aloud (clever girl she is) and get her message across (Has she EVER been that demure, wallflower, keep her thoughts to herself type person?). She told me that she had lost faith in God and that gave me pause until she said that she had renewed her faith in LOVE. That moment made me just give her a big kiss and hold her hand and just stroke her hair. She told me that she had died for 5 minutes and that she was aware that she was not with us. I asked her if she saw any ATM’s where she was (aren’t they everywhere?) and she said no. She smiled and gave my hand a huge embrace as she had her “The Onion” moment for the ridiculousness of my response. She did say that is was all black for any who care to know what the OTHER side will be like. She talked about her kids being 13 and she is very proud of them. She then started pointing to the letter “I” and then “M”. I being of quick mind, assumed she was trying to type out “I am” and then she pointed to “M” again and then “E” at which point I figured she was waxing philosophically about I am Me. She started again with the “I” and then “M” at which point I told her “Look, this is not Wheel Of Fortune” Finally I put it together and that she was trying to get the word “immeasurably” out. I told her to shorten the words or we will be here forever! Her smile and the way she gave me the Thumbs Up were priceless. One communication misstep was when she asked about hair color and red. I asked her if she wanted to color her hair or if she thought it was red. I pulled a few strands of hair in front of her eyes and told her they weren’t red but if she wanted….
I did notice that she has pretty good hand control on her right side and that she has to squint when viewing things. I would love to know if there are any Halo Lens or Oculus type gadgets that could allow her to communicate more effectively out there. I mean , Stephen Hawking had his talking machine so there must be something out there for Jennifer! She would be so happy. I also asked why they were not taking her outside as she communicated to me that she would really appreciate that. I was told that her Doctors wanted her to get better after being ill a month ago. I know movement would make her happy so I will ask when that will be possible.
Her room is festooned with pictures of folks, a little bear that she has on her bed and a KENT banner behind her bed on the wall above her head. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the KENT folks for their support and how they have made it a little easier for Jennifer. I know she really appreciates those days and the friends she made during those formative years. I told her she is in our thoughts and that we will continue to support her. I said that I will be back out on the west coast in the New Year and she smiled and kissed my hand and mouthed love. Incentive enough….
If anyone finds themselves in the Bay area and can find a few minutes to make it to Oakland, I am sure she would appreciate a visit. Her mind is very sharp and she loves to talk
Sorry for the back to back updates but this is from John Edwards, Jennifer's ex husband - its important so please read and please say an extra prayer for her this weekend!!
Hey Maura, you may or may not know this, but I wanted to tell you about recent happenings with Jennifer in the hopes you’ll post the update on her gofundme page.
Jennifer is currently struggling with pneumonia and an infection which has meant she’s been moved temporarily from BAHC to Sutter Memorial. As of this writing, she’s in ICU but doctors are hopeful that she can return to BAHC in about a week.
Given her condition, pneumonia and infections are particularly serious issues, but John Hodges has been in town this weekend to visit her and the kids and I will be visiting her all weekend.
For those dedicated and loving friends, schoolmates, family who follow her story, I thought they might like to know so that they can share an extra prayer or send a card or something that will be waiting for her when she gets back to BAHC.
1833 10th Ave
Oakland CA 94606
Grace, Fletcher, Demaris, and I are visiting her later today and I’ll send another update once we get back from Sutter.
I wanted to share a wonderful development in Jennifer’s life and to once again reach out to our amazing community for additional support for Jennifer.
The frustration of not being able to communicate has been one of Jennifer’s main challenges and complete drain on her quality of life. We have been campaigning to fund the purchase of the state-of-the-art communication device for Jennifer for some time and have successfully raised around 3K toward the device which costs approximately 10K not including costs associated with set up and training. This device, a Speech Generating Device, or “SGD”, will vastly improve Jennifer’s ability to communicate with everyone around her and has much functionality, including pre-set phrases (“My name is Jennifer.” “How are you.” “I need [fill in the blank]”), sentences that she can type out with a keyboard that produces lists of candidate words, connections to Facebook, Google, Skype, and so much more.
This Spring, Jen Brooks, Kent School’s Class of 1984 so very generously donated $10,000 to fund the purchase the SSG for Jennifer!! As of this update, Jennifer has the device and we are working to teach her how to use all of its many features and functions. See the great pictures below of Jennifer with Janielle, her wonderful caregiver, working with the device.
Please join me in thanking Jen Brooks for helping to make this possible and see the below message from Jen as we continue to find ways to help Jennifer have the very best life possible. I am continuously amazed at the unbelievable generosity and support from all who know and love Jennifer and I am especially humbled by the Kent community who have been her bedrock of support and care.
Hello, my Kent friends -
I am so very fortunate to have been in a place where I was able to fund this device for Jennifer. Her accident and the severe limitations it has imposed on our brilliant, intrepid, and indomitable friend are never far from my mind and heart, for “There but for the grace of God go I.” We never truly know what challenges the universe will hand us to manage and overcome; indeed, we all have had our fair share these past several years. And for me, even with the death of my mom from Stage 4 colon cancer, my own Stage 1 colon cancer and surgery, and my dad’s significant mental health crisis I feel lucky compared to Jennifer. I am healthy, have all of my faculties intact, and am able to live as I have always lived each day as a present mom to my kids and able to take part meaningfully in the broader world.
So, I would like to ask us all - her Kent family who has been so generous and present for Jennifer these past years - and her entire Go Fund Me community, to rise to the challenge again using my gift as a catalyst. We are trying to raise funds to maximize Jennifer's quality of life and ability to really LIVE life, with top notch care and able to reengage more fully with the world beyond her assisted care facility. So, we are fundraising for the following:
Year of Janielle, her amazing caregiver:
$17,200 / year
Used Handicap Van plus Insurance
Extra expenses associated with the SGD
Please support what you can and thank you! We would consider it the most amazing gift if Janielle’s time and Jennifer’s van were funded by our Kent community and Jennifer’s Go Fund Me community as well!
Great work Fletcher! If there is one thing I know about your mom, it's that she's addicted to social media, so I am sure she is quite pleased! I am planning a trip out there by summer and definitely see you then. xo
This is Jennifer's son,Fletcher. I've helped Jennifer access her FB account again! So, she'll be able to receive your posts and messages. She thanks everyone for the fantastic love and support she's received, and looks forward to reconnecting with all of you.
Happy Birthday Jennifer! You have good kids. I understand that things can be frustrating. Hang in there. Be patient with yourself. Better things will happen.