The JO club and students from Family and Youth Initiatives’ “Defy” program also volunteered during the event by dancing and visiting with the senior prom guests.

New Carlisle’s Dayview Care Center whisked its residents away to the mythical “Candy Land” when it treated them to a full prom experience during its first-ever “senior citizen prom” event.

Staff members, families, and volunteers donated formal gowns, accessories, tuxedos, and other semi-formal clothing for residents to wear during the event held on March 29. Dave Marquette from Good Vibrations Mobile DJ Services provided entertainment.

It was the first prom some guests had ever been to, and they were thrilled to have the opportunity to finally go to one. One guest in her early 80s says, “I was so excited about this (prom) and dressing up, I almost forgot to put my necklace on! This is just so, so much fun. I never went to prom when I was a girl, so I have a lot of dancing to make up for!”

Like many of her fellow guests, Willa Payne’s favorite music is rock & roll, and her favorite musician is Elvis Presley. Although she was unable to participate in the dancing, Payne praised the event, “I am having so much fun! I think this is just wonderful. I’m glad I could come!”

For Pam Ledford and Vicky Davis, the opportunity to see their elderly mothers, both of whom have dementia, all dressed-up and enjoying the music and lights of their very first prom was heartwarming. Ledford and Davis also praised Dayview for caring about the residents enough to host the event.

Kate Gilliam, Dayview Care Center’s Assisted Living Activities Coordinator, says the idea for the prom came from staff members. Gilliam says the “Candy Land” theme was special because residents don’t get much candy or sweets.

Director of Food Services and chef, Curtis Mullins, created a menu of beautiful appetizers and desserts that reflected the prom’s theme. Mullin’s cake pops were a run-away hit with the prom guests.

“I wanted to create something extra special for this (event). A prom is an important experience, and the food is part of that experience,” explains Mullins.

Gilliam says that Dayview Care Center tries very hard to keep its seniors busy. She explains events like the prom help draw people in from the larger community, “The person-to-person contact is crucial to helping these people stay in touch with the outside community. You cannot get that kind of interaction watching a T.V.”

Students in Tecumseh’s Junior Optimist (JO) Club donated their time to decorate Dayview for the prom with decorations created by them and Dayview staff members. The JO club and students from Family and Youth Initiatives’ “Defy” program also volunteered during the event by dancing and visiting with the senior prom guests.

Tecumseh JO advisor, Paula Crew, commended the students for taking time out of their spring break to serve the people at Dayview Care Center. “I’m so proud of these students. They are thoughtful and took pride in decorating for this event. Now they are spending time with the residents. They are just incredible.”

The students agreed that going into it, they had not known what to expect of a senior citizen prom. They also agree it was much more fun than they had anticipated. One student expressed her surprise and great delight at how many of the senior citizens were dancing. “I didn’t think they would dance much, but they are wearing me out!” she laughed.

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