METEGHAN, N.S. – With a vision of bringing joy, happiness, love and nostalgia to nursing home residents and their families, a group of Toronto friends – including Clare natives Danielle LeBlanc and Briand Melanson – have teamed up to bring Twist & Shout Prom Night to life.
The 1950's prom nights are for senior citizens living at long-term care residences.
Twist & Shout Prom Night has already seen great success at Toronto and area nursing homes over the last few months. Now LeBlanc, Melanson and their team of volunteers are thrilled to be bringing the event home to Clare and to Villa Acadienne in Meteghan, where the event was originally inspired.
Twist & Shout Prom Night will take place here on Wednesday, July 18, from 6:30-7:30 pm.
A live band – Bamtone & The BeBops, featuring LeBlanc, Melanson and their co-organizer, Stephanie Guest – decked out in 1950s attire will play hits from all the big-name artists of that era, such as Elvis, The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly. The space will be decorated like a 1950s prom. Snacks and refreshments will be provided and each resident will receive a corsage or boutonniere for the evening.
A prom king and queen will also be crowned.
A team of volunteers – which includes the original Toronto volunteers as well as locals from Clare who have offered to help out – will all be on site that evening dressed in 1950s attire to dance and interact with the residents and their families.
The original brain-child of LeBlanc – a Clare native, actor and musician who resides in Toronto – Twist and Shout Prom Night has now inspired a team of 20-plus people and counting to make this vision a reality again and again.
“Twist & Shout Prom Night started out simply as an idea I had back in January, and now it's brought a whole team of people together who help bring a lot of joy to nursing home residents, the staff, and even to us. I'm so grateful to everyone who is involved in this project.” says LeBlanc. “It has been incredibly fulfilling for all of us to bring music and a nostalgic evening to seniors.”
LeBlanc was inspired to create this event after spending a couple of years visiting both her grand-mother – Grammy Greta (Windfield) Comeau – and her father-in-law Alphonse Melanson at Villa Acadienne, where this July 18 prom will be taking place. Her father-in-law, who lived his entire life as a brilliant musician, resided in the Alzheimer's/dementia unit of the home.
“The staff at Villa Acadienne are incredible. They take such good care of their residents, but those couple of years were pretty eye opening,” she says.
“My Grammy got so lonely, and my father-in-law couldn't play music anymore as his disease progressed. It can be really hard for everyone – the residents and families alike.” says LeBlanc. “I wanted to create an event where families in this community – a community that is too often forgotten – can connect through music and feel love, happiness, joy and nostalgia. So, that's what we've been doing.”
With constant interest across the board from both businesses and the public to donate money to bring this event to life, Twist & Shout Prom Night’s team is now looking into a registering the organization as a Canadian charity. The crew of volunteers have also set up a Go Fund Me page which can be found at www.gofundme.com/twist-amp-shout-prom-night for anyone who would like to make donations to help the team cover the costs of these events.
The upcoming prom event is highly anticipated in the Municipality of Clare – so much so, LeBlanc says, that many local businesses have sponsored the cause to help bring the team from Toronto to Clare.
LeBlanc is very excited to be bringing this experience to seniors in long-term care facilities, and to be bringing this prom night back home.
“Serving others in such a way gives you a feeling that no one can ever take away from you,” she says.