Senior center seeking donations of prom wear

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Jewett City - posted Mon., Aug. 22, 2011
Sue Whitney and Lois Sprague check out the formal wear available at the Griswold Senior Center for the upcoming Senior Prom on Sept. 21. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.
Sue Whitney and Lois Sprague check out the formal wear available at the Griswold Senior Center for the upcoming Senior Prom on Sept. 21. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.

Who says the senior prom is only for high school seniors?

Members of the Griswold Senior Center at 22 Soule St. in Jewett City are gearing up for a formal dance for its members on Sept. 21. And to make it possible, the center is asking for donations of gently-used formal wear for men and women, particularly in generous sizes.

The “Senior Prom” will be a trip down memory lane for some. But for others, it will be a second chance to live a rite of passage that was missed long ago.

A casual conversation at the center one day led to a discussion of proms “back in the day,” along with the reasons some people didn’t attend. “A lot of people didn’t get to go to their senior proms in high school,” explained member Lois Sprague.

"Back then it was a luxury many couldn’t afford,” said the senior center’s assistant director, Judy Merrill. “Some people had to leave school to go into the service or to help their family [financially].” The cost of a dress or a tuxedo and flowers was beyond the means of many town residents in those days, she said.

Whatever the long-ago roadblocks, Griswold Senior Center Director Tina Falck decided to use the occasion of National Senior Center Month in September to plan a full-blown formal dance, complete with a DJ, dancing, and even (weather permitting) candlelit outdoor tables.

Falck said it’s a perfect match for this year’s theme, “It Happens at My Senior Center. My Life. My Time. My Way.” The seniors have invited local and state dignitaries to attend, to help recognize the role that the center plays in the larger community.

Just like in high school, the prom is generating plenty of buzz at the center. On a recent bus trip, said Falck, “the chatter on the bus was ‘the prom, the prom.’”

Cost, however, is still something of an issue for many of the seniors, said Falck. She’s been organizing a “shop” of donated dresses for seniors on a fixed income to browse through. The center is accepting donations of gowns, cocktail dresses, tuxes or suits, and accessories like shoes and purses.

Donations can be dropped off at the senior center during its hours, 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The center’s phone number is 860-376-2604.


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