Management Declares War on Christmas at California Senior Home

Thursday, 06 Dec 2012 03:47 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Elderly residents at a California seniors living center are enraged over a decision by their building’s management to end an annual tradition and to remove a Christmas tree from their lobby.

JB Partners Group Inc., a Tarzana, Calif.-based real estate company that owns the facility in Newhall, on Tuesday instructed the home’s staff to remove all Christmas trees and menorahs in communal areas, according to residents.

In protest, several dozen residents at The Willows Apartment for Active Senior Living gathered in the lobby on Wednesday to hang a neon-green “Save our Tree” sign around their cherished artificial tree.

“We're all angry. We want that tree,” Fern Scheel, a Willow’s resident since 2010 told the Los Angeles Daily News. “ Where's our freedom? This is ridiculous.”

Scheel’s sentiments were echoed by many of her fellow residents.

“For some folks this is the only Christmas tree they'll have all season,” said resident Robert Troudeau. “ There are people overseas fighting for our freedoms and dying and we're here fighting over things like this. It's a shame,”

Frances Schaeffer, a Jewish resident, joined the protest, claiming not to understand the property management’s position.

“This tree is a symbol of reverence that we can all enjoy regardless of our religious beliefs,” said Schaeffer.

Willows staff and JB Property supervisor Wethanie Law have refused to comment on the tree’s removal.

JB Partners owns and operates more than 30 senior living communities throughout California, Colorado and Oklahoma. It isn’t known if similar policies have been enacted at its other locations.

In addition to Wednesday’s protest, at least one resident, Max Greenis, said he’s considering withholding his rent until management reverses its anti-Christmas tree policy.

“I've got grandkids and they come here and now they'll ask, 'Grandpa, where's the Christmas tree?' Then I'll have to explain that someone said we couldn't have one. What kind of message is that sending to the kids?” asked Greenis.

As Wednesday’s protest ended, many of the residents were seen removing branches from the tree and bringing them back to their room in an attempt to keep the tradition alive.

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