By Mary O’KEEFE
It was all about celebrating on Saturday as well wishers and supporters of Twelve Oaks Lodge were invited to come home, and even though for some it was the first time on the property, it still felt like a homecoming.
It has been a while since neighbors and supporters of Twelve Oaks have had any reason to celebrate. But in late August all that changed with the end of a lawsuit filed by the National Charity League Glendale Chapter against be.group, the company that had been managing the facility for about 10 years. In late August the property was transferred from be.group to the Twelve Oaks Foundation.
About two years ago residents who lived at the assisted living facility were told to vacate their homes. The be.group had planned to close the facility and sell the property.
Julie and Eric Sowers were residents of Twelve Oaks and were in their apartment on the second floor with the view of the mountains when they received the word they were to vacate.
“We were given a letter and told by [the manager],” Eric said. “It was quite a shock.”
Eric added they had thought something might be changing because the parking lot of the facility was being resurfaced.
“We think they had a buyer,” Eric speculated.
The couple moved to Scholl Canyon Estates in Glendale. They said they are happy there but are looking to move to another facility in December.
“We loved it [at Twelve Oaks]. We would have stayed here forever,” he added.
He remembered the various entertainment programs that came to the Lodge and the real feeling of community.
“Maybe if they are ready by December we would move back here,” he said.
But it doesn’t look like the facility will be opening that soon. Paris Cohen, president of Twelve Oaks Foundation, said there is much work to do before they open the doors to seniors again.
“This [today] is truly a celebration,” Cohen said. “There is work to be done … We are not ready to run a business.”
The Foundation is in the process of evaluating the property, to find out what repairs are needed to be done and to investigate what type of senior program and management would work best for the facility.
“We want to reopen but we want to do it right,” Cohen said.
The Foundation is dedicated to opening Twelve Oaks Lodge back up in a way it had always been intended to operate for seniors.
On Saturday a group of women were enjoying the party and beautiful grounds.
“My mother used to live here,” said Shirley Wright. “It broke my heart to hear it had closed.”
Wright’s mother was at Twelve Oaks for about two-and-a-half to three years. She unfortunately had to move to another facility because she required more care in the 1980s. Wright said she liked the neighborhood and community support when her mother was at Twelve Oaks.
“I feel so blessed that it is finally coming back,” Wright said.
The La Cañada High School band was playing in the background at Saturday’s event, with lemonade, iced tea and snacks available to everyone.
“I think this is wonderful,” said Bea Reynolds of the celebration.
Ollie Nelson had never been on the property but had heard of the NCL fight to keep Twelve Oaks from being sold.
“It looks great,” said Geneva Dotson of the property, despite the facility not being used for about two years.
The women liked the apartments that were nestled in amongst the Oak trees.
“And it’s time for us to start thinking about [coming to a place] like this,” Nelson said. “I have to climb [a lot] of stairs at my condo.”
Those who were there for the first time, or those who had a personal connection to the facility, all agreed Twelve Oaks was one of the most unique senior living homes and were happy to see Twelve Oaks moving in the right direction. Eric had one interesting piece of trivia, though.
“You know I counted and there are actually 25 Oak trees here,” he said.
So maybe Twenty Five Oaks Lodge will be the next celebration. But whatever the name, the reopening will provide an opportunity for the facility to return to its foundation, continuing its almost eight decades of service to seniors.