25 Dec 2013

A Dance of Smiles: The Annual Winter Ball

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Two days before Christmas this year, we held our annual Rockaway Care Center Winter Ball. If there’s anything that was prevalent, it was smiles. Warm, cherishing, appreciative, happy smiles. The kind of smiles you think of for holiday season.

A veritable reunion, the Winter Ball is a yearly gathering of past and present residents and staff, and several family members and friends as well. The staff and long-term residents look forward to this event every single year, and during the planning stages, residents made sure their favorites would appear: The same DJ as always, and their favorite hors d’oeuvres of hot punch, and chips & cheese. It’s the little things that matter, the little things that make you smile.

This year, the Winter Ball’s venue was particularly special, but not because it was held in a different place. In fact, it was held in the same place as every year, the main dining hall. But this year, the main dining hall was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, rendering it completely inaccessible. That is, until now. Thankfully, renovations were completed just in time for the Winter Ball, effectively reinaugurating the space. Yet another reason to smile.

One of the most welcome aspects of the Rockaway Care Center Winter Ball is the chance to “see the residents in a different light – all friendly with each other. The residents from different floors get the chance to interact. It takes everyone out of their routine – it provides a different air,” beams Fran Sonustun, Recreation Director and manager of the Winter Ball.
Everyone can participate, including those for whom movement is difficult. About a week before the event, the staff publicize the upcoming ball, allowing residents to prepare. And prepare they do. Many come decked out in their Sunday best – makeup donned, hair done up, dressed in their most cherished outfit in the closet. On the day of the ball, announcements are made via the PA system to remind residents about getting ready. In parallel, staff and volunteers specifically work to assist those who need help physically – either getting dressed, or walking or wheeling down to the ballroom.

By far, nothing says it better than the photos of residents dancing in unison with others – be it staff, family, or friends. Smiling about the opportunity to be together. Glowing with the option to get out on the dance floor, to the tunes of everything from jazz to oldies but goodies, and everything in between. “A real mix,” tells Sonustun, not only of music, but of warmth, unity, and true holiday spirit. All in all, the Rockaway Care Center Winter Ball gives everyone something to smile about.


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