‘Senior Prom’ brings together residents of all ages

‘Senior Prom’ brings  together residents of all agesBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

“I’m ready to cut a rug,” said one of the residents of High Desert Haven, as she stood there in her elaborate prom dress, waiting for the band to start playing. Not all of the residents of the assisted living facility kicked off their shoes, but the band started playing its first Elvis tune of the night and the 5th “Senior Prom” was in full swing.

Members of the community, young and old, danced to live music at the retirement home last month during the much-loved annual event.

“It’s one of our favorite activities at the home,” said HDH Activities Director Heather Dobbs. “The residents are always looking forward to it. Sometimes for months they’ll be asking me ‘when is the prom, when is the prom.’”

Dobbs has worked at High Desert Haven since she was 17 years old. She worked nights and weekends while she was a senior at Burroughs High School where she was an active member of the “Friends of Rachel Club.”

“We were brainstorming, trying to come up with an outreach activity and a lot of the club members knew I worked at High Desert Haven,” said Dobbs. “It was around the same time as our own high school prom and suddenly somebody though of it – *Senior* Prom.”

Friends of Rachel is a national club that simply focuses on spreading kindness throughout the school and community. The club is named for Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the tragic 1999 Columbine High School shooting, but also a beacon of kindness and compassion to her friends and classmates.

“It’s so great to see them enjoying the old songs they recognize and having a good time,” said Dobbs. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell they’re enjoying it, but they really do. The music is their favorite part.

“Out of about 50 residents, usually around 30 of them come for at least part of the event. No other activity brings out that many residents. Bingo comes close though.”

Music is provided by local singing group The FourTunes and the BHS Jazz Band.

“It’s easily one of our favorite events to play,” said a spokesperson for the FourTunes. The group has played the dance every year since it began, along with the high school jazz band.

“We look forward to it every year. We love to see them singing along,” he said. “And the kids who help put it on are great.”

“They really like the live music,” said Dobbs.

“We play CDs of their favorite music all the time, but it’s just not the same. The residents are always asking me to make sure there will be live music.

“It’s also one of the only reasons the residents have to get all dressed up,” she added. “The nurses help the ladies put on their makeup, we just have such a great time. And of course we have lots of good food.”

While Dobbs is obviously no longer a member of the high school Friends of Rachel Club, she’s glad she is able to remain involved with the event as an HDH employee. And over the years, she said that alumni who are visiting for the summer will often come participate in the event.

Pictured: The Friends of Rachel Club of Burroughs High School collaborate with local musicans to throw a “Senior Prom” for the residents of High Desert Haven. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-06-09