Jim Davidson, 92, broke into tears Wednesday afternoon as roughly 100 protesters marched around him in an attempt to save his home, a senior-care facility in La Crescenta, from closure.
“We all expected to live there until we died. We didn't want to move,” Davidson said, sitting on his walker next to four others also facing eviction from Twelve Oaks Lodge.
The closure, which is set for Nov. 1, will displace 50 seniors. Davidson said most of the residents have already left. With just about a dozen still around, the mostly empty dining hall makes him feel disconnected, he said, from friends he's made during the past two years.
The protesters, a mix of Twelve Oaks residents and their family members, neighbors and volunteers who support the facility, held signs outside be.group's central Glendale offices that read “Don't be.heartless” and “be.human,” a play on the facility operator's name.
Officials from the nonprofit organization, which operates 30 other assisted living facilities, said it plans to close Twelve Oaks because it doesn't pencil out financially. Dan Hutson, spokesman for the agency, said before the protest that be.group doesn't plan to halt the closure. The blinds of the organization's offices closed during the protest.
“Don't be greedy, don't be cruel,” protesters shouted from the sidewalk. “Respect our seniors, golden rule.”
One of the most active groups participating in the protest was the Glendale chapter of the National Charity League, a nonprofit organization that has volunteered extensively with Twelve Oaks for decades.
Cassy Quiring, a 16-year-old and an active volunteer with the charity, said it wasn't fair that Twelve Oaks was closing.
“I think it's heartbreaking that they're having to move from their friends,” said the La Cañada Flintridge resident who often does manicures and plays cards with the seniors. The group continues to host events for the seniors even as their numbers have dwindled since getting eviction letters in late August.
The league chapter used to operate the facility, but handed it over to be.group as part of a trust about a decade ago.
Be.group had planned to sell the facility to New Urban West, a Santa Monica developer, but that deal fell through last month, and officials said they are looking for other buyers.
That, said protesters, is a significant part of the issue. No money exchanged hands when be.group took over Twelve Oaks, and protesters said, the group should not be allowed to profit.
National Charity League representatives filed a complaint about the sale with the charitable trust division of the attorney general's office, claiming that be.group may be violating the charitable purpose behind the trust.
Davidson, holding a lime-green sign that said “Save Our Home” plans to move to another be.group facility this month, but he will miss the friends he made at Twelve Oaks.
“Someone was telling me that [be.group] stole my family. And they were right, that's what they did,” Davidson said.