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Swenson home continues to serve Valley
SNOQUALMIE - When lifelong Snoqualmie resident Jean Swenson died last June, her caretaker, Yolanda LePley, feared the adult family home Swenson founded would pass away too if she didn't assure people it's here to stay.
The cozy home, tucked away on Tokul Road, was created in hopes that aging folks with a love for Snoqualmie could stay in the town during their final years.
"I wanted to make clear that Jean was giving the house to Tokul Glen as a gift to the community," LePley said. "This house allowed her to live the rest of her life here. She wanted that for others too, so they don't have to move away from their family and friends."
Swenson died in June of Parkinson's disease at age 77. LePley, resident manager of Tokul Glen Family Home, began caring for Swenson shortly after Swenson's husband, George, died in 1991, and helped to develop the adult family home in 2000.
"She had a tremendous love for Snoqualmie and wanted this always to be for people who lived here with chronic diseases so they could continue to live and die in the Valley. I thought there would be some concern that it no longer existed because of her death, but we do exist and we're better than ever," she said.
A new set of quaint bedrooms and a bathroom were recently added to accommodate more residents.
Adult family homes like Tokul Glen only host six residents at a time. This intimate setting keeps those residents from feeling warehoused, LePley said.
"It's a good alternative to a nursing home or assisted living," she said.
Only two residents live in the home currently, but LePley is hoping that will soon change. The Tokul house was owned by Swenson, LePley and Swenson's niece, Carole Fisher, a lawyer and registered nurse (RN). When Swenson died, she left the home to the two women, though LePley, also an RN, runs the home from day to day.
Erma Kenyon, 93, presently lives in the house and seems to enjoy it.
"They take good care of ya, that's for sure," Kenyon said.
The Tokul house was built in 1953, and the house in which Swenson originally lived as a newlywed sits vacant next door. The Swensons were business owners in the Valley and Swenson stayed dedicated to the area her whole life. Even after being diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1986, she spent many hours cleaning up refuse along Upper Valley roadways for exercise.
LePley is in the process of forming a focus group to see that the Tokul Glen Family Home continues to be run "in the spirit of Jean."
"I want to make sure we continue to do the right thing, what she really would of wanted," LePley said.
To find out more about the Tokul Glen Family Home, call (425) 888-2538.
Staff Writer Melissa Kruse can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org