January 30, 2013 - Last Saturday, some local high school students attended a very special prom—as hosts.
Unlike most proms, the nearly 100 guests at the Jan. 26 dance weren't teenagers, in fact, most ranged in age from 30-80.
The guests were all residents of Angels' Place, homes for special needs adults. For many of them, it was their first prom, so the students worked to add all the touches of a traditional prom, making for a special evening for both.
"It was really fun, they were all very sweet," said Mara Tremblay, a Goodrich High School freshman. "We talked a lot with them. They said they were having fun and most of them were really into music. It felt really good to do something nice for them because they were all super sweet."
Tremblay was just one of several members of the St. Anne Youth Group that volunteered for the Angels' Prom, held at Our Lady of Refuge Church in Orchard Lake. Three other youth groups, as well as several adult volunteers also offered their time and efforts to create the special night.
"Our roles were to bring appetizers and desserts, prepare them, serve them and clean up as well as serve punch," said Kim Zrnec, St. Anne Youth Group director. "We also took turns dancing and visiting with the residents, they had their pictures taken and Willow Pointe (Flowers & Gifts) provided all the corsages and boutonnieres! We took their coats and put flowers on when we greeted them and decorated the tables with all kinds of goodies—it was beautiful! I'm not sure who had more fun, the residents or the volunteers."
Sophia Gaves, a Brandon High School senior, said the guests were having a really good time dancing to tunes such as "The Chicken Dance," "Macarena," and "YMCA" and "The Hustle." The music also included many of today's top hits.
Gaves enjoyed dancing with the Angels' Place residents.
"I didn't care if I looked silly dancing or not," she said. "I am not normally a dancer, but it was a fun change…. I would love to do this again. I feel like I gave them something they might not have been able to participate in before. I gave them a night they really deserved and they knew it was a place where they wouldn't be judged."
The guests told Gaves how happy they were and that they were having a lot of fun. She noted many couldn't stop smiling.
Angels' Place is a non-profit organization founded in 1992 which offers services and 20 homes in the tri-county area for persons with developmental disabilities.
"Our residents had a great time, many of them have never been to a prom," said Barb Urbiel, Angels' Place director of development. "It was just such a special night for them and there was so much interaction with the young people. They really enjoyed being with them and that made them feel good, too. The youth groups approached us in later summer about the idea and they really worked for quite a few months on making sure it was a perfect night."
Uriel said while the prom theme was a winter wonderland, the hearts of the guests were really warmed. Many residents called her on Monday to let her know how grateful they felt to be included.
"There are a lot of good teenagers in the world," said Uriel. "Our future is in good hands with the students that put this dance on."
Anyone interested in learning more about Angels' Place and volunteer opportunities can visit www.angelsplace.com or call 248-350-2203.
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville