It all started with a love story 67 years ago, when Mary and McCoy Garrison got married. This year to celebrate their anniversary, all the residents and families of the Joseph C. Thomas Center at Richfield Living were invited to the party.
At the “Then and Now Spring Event” on May 18, the couple sat reliving their memories together and even dancing a little while holding the hands of daughter Kathy Sparks of Salem.
Others were jitterbugging and swing dancing, tapping their toes and snapping their fingers to live music by a 20-piece orchestra, sipping 8-oz. bottles of Coca-Cola and root beer, and eating miniature red velvet cupcakes and fruit parfaits. And that was after a full-course seated dinner in the late afternoon.
“Our ‘Then and Now’ event celebrated McCoy and Mary’s anniversary. We recreated date night with the Sway Katz Big Band, decade costumes” from the 1950s and more, explained Beverly Adams, senior life enrichment director at Richfield Living’s JCT, who planned the party with her team.
The “joint was jumping” as 20 Glenvar High School football players twirled smiling and laughing JCT lady residents, while other volunteers held hands with gents who danced in their wheelchairs or kept time with their canes.
Resident Mary McCoy smiled and watched. Her daughter talked about what the celebration meant to the family. “This is something that brings all the residents together and brings such joy and pleasure,” Kathy Sparks added, as Garrison grandson Aaron Kelderhouse, who was sitting behind his grandparents, agreed.
The Garrisons’ actual anniversary was May 5. Once Adams realized their date was close to when she usually plans a big annual party for JCT, she started planning this year’s massive event – a year ago.
She had lots of help preparing the celebration and helping get residents all gussied up. In addition to the GHS Football Team, there were 62 volunteers. They included 17 United HealthCare volunteers, as well as dozens of Beverly and Tom Adams’ piano students and some parents, and other teen volunteers. Among those were GHS student Olivia Nicholson, who was dressed in 1960s mini-dress and white go-go boots, and friend Kris Maxey of Salem, who “grew” a mustache and sideburns for the evening to go with his vintage polyester.
Like many other students there, Olivia volunteers time during the school year and summer to work with residents.
Adult nursing students were from United Health Care.
“The United HealthCare volunteers came at 2 p.m. with their curling irons to do residents’ hair, helped with makeup and fingernails. They helped serve dinner, and several stayed for the party,” Beverly Adams explained.
Resident Lillian Amos had a good time. “Yes, I liked the party. I just had to have some of those sweets, oh boy!” she said, referring to postage-stamp size red velvet cupcakes and fruit parfaits.
The seated dinner featured a “Blue Plate Special” menu prepared by Richfield’s Dietary Department chefs and pastry chefs, with such comfort foods as meatloaf with mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls.
Resident Dorothy Bell was enthusiastic about the big band music. “This is good. We need it. I like to dance sometimes” she said, after dancing with “sailor” Tom Adams in his midshipman uniform.
He dressed that way in honor of Bobbie Guthrie, who was in the U.S. Navy. Guthrie did not let his wheelchair keep him from holding hands to dance from a seated position with his daughter.
One of the piano students volunteering who was dressed as a carhop waitress was 8-year-old Caroline Bass, with her dad and mom, Mr. and Mrs. Chris Bass. He was a baseball player, and she wore an “A Team of Their Own” All American Girls Professional Baseball uniform.
Ninety-five-year-old Nan Lee danced and danced. Many of her partners were Glenvar High School Football Team members, including Cody Gibson. Most of them were ninth-graders who were experiencing the spring event for the first time.
“I like giving back to the community,” said ninth-grader Zach Moore. “I like meeting new people and being able to talk and dance, and make everyone here happy.” Jacob Crowder, a defensive and offensive tackle, added, “I like to give back to the community.”
Right tackle Jesse Brown pronounced the party “pretty cool.” “It was a good experience, talking to all these people,” added Nick Shell, a wide receiver.
Coach Kevin Clifford explained why he encourages his team members to come to Richfield to put on a pep rally in the fall at JCT, and to mingle at the spring event. “We enjoy coming here. It’s important for our kids just to come. It helps them be well rounded.”
Music by the band and vocalist Celie Holmes ranged from “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” to “In the Mood.”
To help pay for the party, JCT residents raised $900 at a Barbecue Bake Sale, another $478 with a Breakfast Bar Fundraiser, and received a $200 donation.
Originally the plan was to hold the event outdoors in the courtyard, but heavy rain called for some changes. Staff and volunteers moved furniture and transformed JCT into a garden space with overhead strings of lights and room for the big band as well as dancing. Residents joined in by blowing soap bubbles at the conclusion of the evening.