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Verdugo Views: Early charity for elderly helped grow Twelve Oaks

June 30, 2012|By Katherine Yamada
  • A sketch of Stern Hall, which was built in memory of True Aiken Stern and dedicated at Twelve Oaks in La Crescenta in 1964.
A sketch of Stern Hall, which was built in memory of True…

National Charity League of Glendale was established in 1942 to provide assistance to needy elderly people. For many years they held fundraisers with a specific goal: to build and operate a retirement facility in Glendale.

By 1963, some 20 years after they were founded, they had raised enough money to build that facility.

Surprisingly, instead, they presented their funds, more than $50,000, to the Verdugo Hills Sunshine Society, which was already operating Twelve Oaks Lodge at 2820 Sycamore Avenue in La Crescenta.

The money was given with the stipulation that it be used to build a new residence hall for needy elderly women, wrote Petty Preston, Women’s Editor, in the Glendale News-Press, Oct. 12, 1963.

During their fundraising phase, Preston explained, National Charity League leaders had realized that the Sunshine Society served a purpose almost identical to theirs; they decided to join efforts with that group rather than duplicate services.

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Twelve Oaks had been established in 1935 after Effie Fifield turned her La Crescenta property over to the Sunshine Society to be used as a home for elderly men and women who could not afford to pay high fees.

The board of trustees of the Verdugo Hills Sunshine Society operated the Twelve Oaks retirement facility. At the time Charity League presented their gift, the board of trustees was headed by Harry M. Keller. Also on the board of trustees were Bernard Anawalt, Thomas Bonetto, Guy Carlton, John Craig, Lee Lawhead, Homer Martin and Lee Merritt. (Anawalt, Bonetto, Craig, Lawhead, Martin and Merritt had all served on the board of trustees since the society’s inception in 1935.)

Construction on the new building began immediately. It was to be called Stern Hall in memory of True Aiken Stern, a charter member of Charity League, and the person who initially inspired the project.

National Charity league assumed full cost of the building, Preston noted. The nine units were all reserved for women. Graham Latta was the architect and the general contractor was Sid Hansen.

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