Nicollet Place’s New Face
Owning and running her own assisted-living facility is something Kala Xiong has wanted to do for most of her adult life.
And, now, she finally does. Xiong, and her sister, Carolyn Xiong, recently purchased the Nicollet Place assisted-living facility in Blue Earth.
“Our first day we owned it was on April 23,” Kala Xiong says. “I have a passion for taking care of the elderly. And I love small towns. So this is perfect for me.”
Xiong is a nurse and has been living in Maple Grove in the Twin Cities area for the past five years. Her sister, Carolyn, is a pharmacist.
“I will be the one here (at Nicollet Place) and be running it,” Kala Xiong says. “My sister will try and be here one day a week or maybe on some weekends, too.
Kala Xiong has left her nursing position in the metro, but her sister is continuing at her pharmacy job.
However, Kala Xiong is not quite ready to move permanently to Blue Earth.
“I have four children,” she explains. “They are still at our home in Maple Grove. They are all getting older.”
Her children are 24, 21, 17 and 16. The 17 year old graduated from high school last week. Xiong’s husband passed away 11 years ago, so the kids take care of things at home.
“When my kids all move out and go on their own, I am sure I will be moving here to Blue Earth,” she says. “I think it would be a very nice place to live.”
For now, she spends many nights at a cousin’s home in Mankato, with trips back to the Twin Cities, as well.
Carolyn Xiong, who is nine years younger than Kala, and her husband have three children, ages 18, 7 and a one-year old.
Kala Xiong followed a long and winding road to get here to Blue Earth.
She was born in Laos, but when she was one-year-old her family moved to a refugee camp in Thailand. Her family had been farmers there.
“When I was 14 years old my family all moved to California, and they were farmers there,” Xiong says. “A few years later my family my parents and siblings all moved to Minnesota, to North Branch, but I was married by then and my husband and I stayed in California, with our kids.”
However, when her husband became ill, Xiong, her husband and children all moved to be closer to the rest of the family.
“We did not come to Minnesota exactly,” she says. “We moved to New Richmond, Wisconsin, another really nice small town, not too far from the Twin Cities.”
Xiong went to Metro State College in the Twin Cities, then Herzig University for four years, and became a nurse. She has worked in senior care facilities, hospitals and most recently in public health.
But, how exactly did she end up in Blue Earth?
“The last three years I was doing research on assisted living facilities, and I took some classes about being an entrepreneur,” she says. “My sister and I kept looking for an opportunity.”
Then it happened.
“This (Nicollet Place) just popped up on the internet one night,” Xiong says. “We had never heard of Blue Earth and didn’t know where it was, or even if it was real.”
They started dealing with the broker who had it listed and learned more. Then they took some time off from their work and came and took a look for themselves.
“I believe God does things in his own way,” Xiong says. “God knew I was not ready to do this, until now.”
The two sisters were very interested in the opportunity here, and decided to make it happen. So far, Kala Xiong has been happy with the decision.
“I love small towns and this is such a friendly town,” she says. “Everyone has been so welcoming and nice. Everyone also seems so open-minded about having someone new in the community.”
That also goes for all the residents at Nicollet Place, Xiong says.
“The residents here are great, they are so very kind,” she explains. “They are very open-minded, no rejection of someone new. You just don’t always see this in the Cities it is just a different way. That is why I love small towns.”
Xiong says she and her sister do not plan a lot of changes. It is has been run well by previous owner Mary Beyer, and they plan to keep it that way.
“Oh, we may change some of the menu, try and make it healthier foods, more fruit and vegetables,” Xiong says. “And we will try to cater to the needs of all the residents, as each one’s needs are a little different.”
One major change which may be happening is the name of the place.
“The new company we formed to buy this is named Sister Care,” Xiong explains. “And we will be working on changing the name of this to Sister Care as well.”
When she has not been busy going to school to become a nurse, working and being a single mom to four children, Xiong does have some fun things she likes to do.
“I love to garden,” she says. “Especially I love to grow roses. A few do very well, but not all of them.”
She also loves to read, and enjoys mystery novels, romances, history novels and many other genres.
Traveling with her children is also something she has done and hopes to continue to do.
“When they were younger, we went to places like Yosemite Park, Utah, California and many other places,” Xiong says. “But when your kids get older, they are in many other activities, school, work and have boyfriends, girlfriends. So it is harder to all go together somewhere.”
She also says she likes to do a lot of walking, especially in the evenings.
“It is my way to destress,” she explains. “Walking is very good for that.”
One other “hobby” she mentions?
“I love to go to church every Sunday,” she says. “It is very important to me, and I enjoy it. Besides, I truly believe God has a plan for me, and right now this (being in Blue Earth) is his plan. He led me here.”