By Celina Simmons
As the years drag on and our bodies age, we often lose touch with the childish youth within us. That is why Amber Wilson, the Engage Life Director at Atria Senior Living Facility, decided to organize a “Senior” Prom with Will Chabot and the SMCC’s Student Senate.
On the 13th of this month, SMCC students from the Midcoast and SoPo campuses made the trek to Scarborough to attend this prom. I was fortunate enough to attend the event and let me tell you, it was the most heart-warming evening.
The idea sprang from Atria’s Kennebunk location “Sweetheart Dance” tradition with UNE students. Amber has been working for Atria for 10 years and last April, she moved to their Scarborough location. She knew she wanted to carry over the Kennebunk tradition but had a few twists in mind.
She decided to create more of a “prom” feeling and limousine rides, a professional photographer, more decorations, and a bigger band were the perfect additions. Appetizers and beverages were provided for all attendees and the music generated positive vibes all night. Amber shared that the the night exceeded her expectations, “It takes a lot for my own events to ‘wow’ me and this one did it. You all did it.”
The best part of the night by far was the announcement of Prom King and Queen. Atria employees and residents voted for the winners and tallied up the votes earlier in the evening. The winners, Jan and Bob, are residents of Atria in their Memory Care department. The two have been together for 41 years and the love between them remains everlasting. Amber explained, “This shows such progress in the way we feel about dementia in that even though with the natural aging process and the issue of memory loss… the person still thrives inside.”
I was able to talk to Jan after winning the title of Prom Queen and she shared, “I couldn’t walk straight, I was so excited! It’s the kindness of other people that is important.” She’s not wrong with that statement. Through all the hardship everyone faces in life, those little strokes of kindness create momentary bliss that helps forget everything wrong.
Congratulations to Jan and Bob and congratulations to Amber. After roughly three months of planning and help from our Student Senate, she put together a night that we will never forget and potentially sparked a long lasting tradition between Atria and SMCC.