Laughter and lights, friends and flowers, dinner and dancing. Prom is a rite of passage for many teenagers. And for the first time, The Barry Robinson Center held a prom for residents, on April 28. Deemed an inspiring success, Prom 2018 was a labor of love crafted by staff and friends.
Seventeen residents enjoyed a gala event in a gym festooned with shimmering strands of lights, shiny balloons and other decorations. For a few residents in their final year of high school, Prom 2018 held distinct meaning.
“At the end of the night, one of the senior girls walked up and gave me a big hug, expressing her gratitude,” said Allyson Hagan, MS, CTRS. “She told me this was her senior prom, and she was so thankful to have this memory because she was missing her home school’s prom due to being in treatment.”
Hagan, the Center’s activities director, conceived the idea for a prom several months ago.
“I thought about it while driving to work one day around the winter holiday timeframe. We run a lot of special events and outings during the holidays, and I was thinking about how we needed something for the spring time as well,” Hagan said. “We held a graduation ceremony last June for our high school seniors, so why not add to the festivities of young adulthood and do a prom.”
Volunteers from across campus embraced Hagan’s dream. Several staff members supported her with planning, ordering supplies and offering guidance to ensure residents would have a memorable occasion. Before Saturday’s evening festivities, other staff came in and helped the girls with a “spa day” that included getting their nails, hair and make-up done in a typical teen girl fashion. The teen boys caught the spirit of the prom, too, looking sharp in fancy ties.
The Center’s dietary staff served a delicious plated dinner of salad, pasta Alfredo with a meat of choice, vegetables, bread and an Oreo cheesecake. Participants offered toasts during the meal, with everyone expressing thanks before socializing and dancing. Staff members took individual photos of residents in their prom finery to share with parents.
Community friends also supported Prom 2018. About 20 high school volunteers from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Norfolk helped set up tables and decorations. Fairfield Flowers in Virginia Beach donated corsages, and Astro DJ provided the music.
“Our high school students had the most AWESOME time at Prom,” Hagan wrote in a thank you message to staff. “From the bottom of my heart, I am so thankful we were able to give our kids this experience. The evening couldn’t have been successful without the help of all of you across campus!”