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Dancing-- and chatting --the night away!

Posted: February 16, 2011

On Saturday night, the dining room of Ulin House was transformed into a retro-style candy store for the nearly 150 attendees of the 12th annual YLD Senior Prom.  The ‘Kid in a Candy Shop’ theme took residents and volunteers alike on a trip down memory lane, with the help of sticky sweet treats, a photo booth, and a dance floor that brought back the forties in full swing. 

The Young Leadership Division (YLD) of CJP has made Senior Prom a philanthropic priority for over a decade, giving JCHE residents the opportunity to experience high school prom all over again –only this time, nearly fifty years later!  At JCHE Brighton, where the average age of residents is 81, celebrating prom might seem a bit out of the ordinary, but one look at the dance floor Saturday proved that prom - at any age - is a cause for celebration.  A hora line kicked off the night as volunteers and residents clasped hands and warmed up to Klezmer music.  And on the dance floor, age fell to the wayside as an eager mix of twenty-somethings and eighty-somethings shuffled, swayed and stepped to the sounds of Frank Sinatra and Cole Porter. 

The Senior Prom was just another example of the innovative approach to aging that occurs within the walls of JCHE.  Within each of JCHE’s three sites, there is a strong belief that older adulthood is a wonderful period to grow and experience new things – or in Saturday night’s case, re-experience old things in a new and different way. 

With 75 YLD volunteers in attendance, the event brought together the young and the young at heart.  The night was a sugary mix of candy and conversation, as residents told stories of their sweetest memories and reminisced about their own time as young adults. Senior Prom held special significance for many YLD volunteers who also understand the importance of helping older generations. 

“I saw how much it meant for the residents to speak with us and share their stories,” said one YLD member, Talia Abrahams.  “It was amazing to see the look on their faces when they realized all of these people wanted to spend time with them.”  Another YLD volunteer, Eric Kaye, shared a similar sentiment.  “It was a rewarding – and also meaningful – experience to have with friends at JCHE.  Although,” he added, “I think the residents enjoyed themselves even more than the kids!”

As the clock struck nine and the night came to an end, residents went home with leftover cookies and lollipops (for their grandchildren, they assured everyone).  No doubt the grandchildren will also enjoy the souvenir photographs of their grandparents flushed from dancing and smiling wide.  This was a prom that would surely leave a sweet taste in the mouths of JCHE residents for weeks to come.  

Photo: (left) Bella Goldenberg and Jason Kleineman and (right) Jane Kangun and Rob Jacobson

Photography: Dara Stern

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