Most of the dancing at the Sunnybrook Valentine’s Day dance came from the Elvis impersonator sashaying through the crowd.
Friday, Feb. 15, at 2 p.m., Sunnybrook Assisted Living held its first Valentine’s Day dance. The event was partially organized by Emily Jones and Jason Murphy, the lifestyle director and executive director respectively for the home. They invited residents from five other Sunnybrooks in the area for festivities, though distance and weather caused two facilities to cancel.
“We thought we would do a group activity with all of our sister facilities and bring the residents together for a moment of joy,” Murphy said.
The dance is part of the living facility’s Montessori programming. Though Jones and Murphy iron out the details of events like this, it’s all planned and put together in part by the Sunnybrook residents. According to Murphy, Montessori programming is done to help residents stay mentally engaged and active by involving them with tasks and planning for activities like this.
The dance also gives residents the opportunity to talk to new people from other Sunnybrook branches.
“A lot of them were excited to see other people and having something to do other than just our normal little socials,” said Murphy.
She also feels residents have had fun preparing for the event. Doing things like making Mason jars, chocolate-covered strawberries and hanging white and red streamers on the banisters.
In addition to decorations, prizes and food, the event also featured “Nearly Elvis,” the stage name for Elvis impersonator Ron Semler.
“We thought (an Elvis impersonator) would be something different and unique,” Murphy said. “Something they’d relate to and enjoy.”
The fact that one resident approached Elvis to ask “do women chase you down the hallway?” suggests Murphy is correct.
“The people are great,” Semler said. “And it’s a good memory for them.”
By Semler’s estimate, this is the fourth time he’s performed for the residents of Sunnybrook.
Marlene Statler has been a resident for more than three years and has seen some of Semler’s previous performances.
“His shows are really nice and he does a good job,” Statler said. “That’s why they keep getting him back.”
His set includes love songs like “Memories” and “Love Me Tender.” Once he’s through he takes requests from the audience. During the show he made his way through the crowd, Singing to individuals and at one point draped sequined scarves around some residents.
“We’re hoping that all the (area) Sunnybrooks will have a theme each month where we can all go to a different Sunnybrook,” Murphy said, hoping meetups between the area facilities can become more commonplace. “Right now we’re doing this first to see how it goes over and see if that’s something else we could do in the future.”