For senior citizens in D.C., spring is prom season.
About 185 senior citizens and 140 students attended the fifth annual Senior Prom at Marvin Center’s Grand Ballroom Saturday evening.
The Neighbors Project, an organization within GW’s Community Service Office tasked with Foggy Bottom outreach, hosted the luau-themed event which included dinner and dancing. This year’s prom was the largest in the program’s history, as 60 people remained on the waiting list as late as Saturday night. Neighbors Project volunteers relied on local donors to reach their $8,000 fundraising goal, which they achieved in late March.
Ed Abramic, 74, said he attended for a specific purpose.
“Well, because there are a lot of women here,” said Abramic, a resident of the St. Mary’s Court retirement home. “I’m supposed to tell the truth, am I not?”
Abramic, last year’s prom king, said he looks forward to this event every year. He added that he wishes there was a better way to keep in touch with the people he meets.
“I’ve been feeling very down lately, and this is a good uplift,” Abramic said. “However, I wish I had a little scotch in the soda.”
Earlie Mitchell, 68, said the event is always a pleasant change of pace.
“I think it’s beautiful and a nice outing for the seniors, and everybody looks so nice,” said Mitchell, who lives in the Golden Rule Apartments near Union Station. “It’s just a refreshing trip. I just get a blessing in meeting different people.”
One of the largest donors to the event was Serve DC, a group in the mayor’s office which promotes volunteering and community outreach.
“One of the main things we try to do is foster community service with all universities, but GW has been a great partner,” said Dy Brown, communications director for District Mayor Adrian Fenty. “I think one of the most rewarding experiences in life is to see men and women enjoying themselves.”
Michael Akin, GW’s director of D.C. and Foggy Bottom/West End Affairs, said the prom is mutually beneficial for both groups of attendees.
“I think the seniors clearly benefit from having a wonderful day,” said Akin, who was involved in planning the event. “And the students benefit from getting to know the seniors, learning about their stories and having the opportunity to talk to them.”
Senior Sanjana Ballal attended the past three proms and was in charge of garnering support from other seniors this year.
“Honestly, it just makes me feel good about myself and the school,” Ballal said.
Dottie Steranko, 69, said GW does an especially good job of helping the local senior community.
“I love all the gals and the fellas from GW. They do great things for us over at St. Mary’s,” Steranko said. “The thing that I like is that they get involved and they are genuine.”
Students help Steranko’s friends get groceries and send them cards when they are sick, she said. Most importantly, Steranko said, GW students treat seniors with respect.
“They make me feel young, and they make other people feel young,” she said. “They are the best.”