Charity moves beyond Twelve Oaks

A longtime tradition changed this weekend for the Glendale chapter of the National Charity League, a philanthropic organization for women and their daughters. The chapter moved the location of its annual holiday party, in the past thrown for local seniors.

The move is one example of how the organization is moving on following the closure of Twelve Oaks Lodge, a senior assisted-living facility that the league has steadfastly supported for decades.

The charity group used to throw an annual holiday party for residents of the now-shuttered facility in La Crescenta.

But on Saturday, roughly a month after Twelve Oaks closed, volunteers instead hosted a party for students at the Learning Lab in the Hathaway-Sycamores Family Resource Center, which serves as a place for at-risk youth to do their schoolwork.

“Up until this year, a lot of our members used to do a large percentage of their hours at Twelve Oaks,” said Paris Cohen, the chapter's vice president for philanthropy.

Twelve Oaks served as the “focus philanthropy” for students in seventh through 12th grades in the group, a volunteer relationship predicated on a long-standing bond between the two organizations, Cohen said.

Such ministry with the elderly is a unique part of the Glendale group, said Rose Chan, the chapter's current president.

“For now, we feel that we are without our home,” she said. “For so many years, it was our main philanthropy. It was our base.”

Now, board meetings once held at Twelve Oaks are held at the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, another charity to which league members donate their time. Photographs of graduating classes from the group, which date back decades, have been relocated from a living room area in the former senior facility to a storage unit.

The group has sought out new philanthropies to serve. Members have added three new organizations to the list, so far — Door of Hope and Union Station, which both work with the homeless, and Friends of La Cañada Library.

In addition, they have looked for new opportunities, such as Saturday's holiday party, from the roughly 25 groups already approved by the chapter.

Members also hope to find an organization like Twelve Oaks to fill the gap for volunteering with the elderly, though such a warm and inviting environment may be hard to find elsewhere any time soon, Cohen said.

The relationship between the two groups dates back from 1963, when the chapter donated $50,000 for the construction of a one-story residence hall at Twelve Oaks. Members raised an additional $500,000 for the construction of a two-story residence hall in the early 1970s, Chan said.

In 1976, around the time the new residence hall was completed, the charity chapter took the relationship a step further by assuming control of the foundation over Twelve Oaks from the Verdugo Hills Sunshine Society. The chapter then managed it until 2003, when they handed control over to the, which eventually closed the facility.

League members had long volunteered at the facility and continued to help even after the switch. They planned events such as birthday celebrations, manicure days and puppy parties, where the girls organized barbecues and brought their dogs.

“It was like visiting a grandparent,” Cohen said. “It won't be easy to replace.”

-- Emily Foxhall,

Follow on Twitter: @emfoxhall.


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