About 78 residents from 10 retirement homes throughout the Richmond area attended a senior citizen prom hosted by Alpha Phi Omega at the University of Richmond on Tuesday.
The annual event, which took place in the Alice Haynes Room, is designed to engage brotherhood and community, Sam Jaeger, senior citizen prom chair, said.
APO is a coed collegiate fraternity focused on service. APO members serve the community in part by interacting with senior citizens.
The prom had a casino theme with card games at each table and a playlist full of Vegas-inspired songs. The night included raffles, corsages and shiny outfits. Some attendees came with their own matching green hats decked out with cards, dice, feathers and money.
The night started out with food and games, but dancing ensued after an hour. Barbara Noel, a resident of Marywood Apartments, was one of the few who began the dancing. “And once somebody starts, they’ll join in," Noel said. "I like to include people that are normally left out. The people in wheelchairs, quite often they’re left out and you can tell they’re wanting to do stuff. ... I just grab a wheelchair and take off with them!”
Noel was crowned prom queen. Her crowning was followed by a dance to the song “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”
Barbara Dylan, who focuses on personal care with Manorhouse Assisted Living, one of the homes with residents in attendance, emphasized the prom's importance. She said it was great for the residents to get out and do things.
Adrienne Wagoner, the director of activities for Manorhouse, said being able to plan joyful activities was important to her.
Wagoner’s position focuses on planning and coordinating the monthly calendar of activities and events for Manorhouse's residents -- games, outings and trips such as the APO senior citizen prom.
“I love proving to families that our heart is in the right place because a lot of families get worried that when they bring their loved ones to a community, that they’re not going to get the care they need,” Wagoner said. “With activities, we can see the joy they’re able to reminisce, they’re able to experience and create new memories, especially when you can cater to what that person enjoyed previously.
"So you see those connections, not only for the residents but also for the residents’ families.”
Other APO members who were present, such as junior Meghann Lewis, also emphasized how fun the event was. Lewis joined APO because she did a lot of community service in high school and wanted to stay involved, she said.
“It’s always fun to have people from different nursing homes come here and interact and also to have our brothers interact with them as well,” Lewis said. “It’s fun to see because they always have a really good time.”
Alex Kohnert, a sophomore in APO, said it was fun to see everyone so dressed up, and junior Allison Sinicki said she was most excited for the dancing.
Jaeger said the turnout this year was probably the highest of the past few years and that she was thrilled so many people attended. She attributed the event’s success to members of the brotherhood really stepping out and showing excitement for the event.
Contact contributor Meredith Scroggin at email@example.com.