DeSales University Students Bridge the Generation Gap with Simple Acts of Kindness

by User Not Found | Apr 17, 2011

On Sunday, April 17, DeSales University students hosted a senior prom at the University for nursing home residents in the Lehigh Valley. Residents from Phoebe-Richland and Belle Haven spent the afternoon listening to and dancing to music from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. read more after the photo ►

Eliza Martin dancing with Anna Kalnins from Belle Haven Nursing Home

Eliza Martin dancing with Anna Kalnins from Belle Haven Nursing Home


The Commonwealth Room at the DeSales University Center was filled with the sounds of the Glenn Miller Band, Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, and many others whose music bolstered this generation of Americans through the best and worst times.

All residents, regardless of mobility, were encouraged by students to come to the dance floor and share the nostalgia of the music and the memories it conjured. Several residents accepted dance invitations from students, who helped support them while they swayed on the dance floor. Other residents enjoyed watching, clapping along, or dancing to the music in their chairs.

The highlight of the day was a visit from the DeSales University Bulldog mascot, who graciously danced with the ladies and posed for pictures with residents. Photos were printed onsite and given to the residents as keepsakes. Guests also received geranium centerpieces to adorn their rooms.

Feedback from the residents and nursing home staff was overwhelmingly positive. Enid Chacker from Pheobe-Richland, who had not danced in nearly 25 years, had the chance to do so at the prom, radiating happiness as she danced to some of her favorite tunes.

DeSales senior Eliza Martin ’11 said, “Not only did we bring delight to some elders in our community, we gained a new perspective and saw that we really can make a difference. A simple dance with a woman who hasn’t danced since she was a young girl brought immeasurable happiness. Little acts of love make all the difference!”

The prom was the brainstorm of several freshmen students and their peer mentors who are part of the University’s first-year experience program—Character U. Character U begins every fall with two critical goals in mind: help new students transition into college life and promote character development among the student body. Character U programming includes competitions, fundraising events, keynote speakers, and an end-of-the-year service project. The senior prom was the service project for Pod 6, one of the eight groups to which students are assigned when they arrive on the DeSales campus.

“Having local nursing homes residents come and spend a couple of hours with us was amazing,” said Emily Mulicka ’12 “For some of them, it was their first prom, which made it even more special for them. When I saw the look on their faces and talked to them, I realized how much of an impact we made on their lives. … This was an unforgettable experience.”

The students involved in the senior prom saw the event as a way to express their gratitude to this great generation of Americans. They also hope it inspires future campus events geared toward engaging more of the Lehigh Valley’s senior citizens in ways that allow them to enjoy some of life’s simplest pleasures.

Bulldog (Brian Collins) with Martha Kocsis from Phoebe-Richland Home. Freshman Steve Zumbano dancing with Enid Chacker from Phoebe-Richland Home.

Bulldog (Brian Collins) with Martha Kocsis from Phoebe-Richland Home.

Freshman Steve Zumbano 
dancing with Enid Chacker from 
Phoebe-Richland Home.

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Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
610.282.1100 x1219

DeSales University
2255 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034