It was a day most will cherish for the rest of their lives, it was the Winter Snow Ball. Many people at The Arc had been chomping at the bit to do more activities together, since the mask mandate had been lifted in fall 2022. The question was asked, “What kinds of activities would you like to see take place now that we all can be together again?” Several people mentioned having a prom type event. Jessica Baldi, one of the Life Coaches at the Thrive location, dug a little deeper and asked, “Well, what does that mean to you?”
Brian Sprague stated that he had never been to a prom or dressed up. Brian comes from a humble background, and when he would attend a wedding or family event, he would typically wear a polo type shirt. This left a big desire in his heart to be able to dress up in a three-piece suit. It didn’t have to be a “prom” per-say, but people wanted to have a formal event where they could dress up to the nines and feel radiant with their friends.
Baldi’s wheels began to turn with excitement. This sparked an email which was sent out to all staff within DelArc asking for help. Thrive was going to throw their first Formal Winter Snow Ball. There was so much to be done, decorations needed to be made and hung, they needed dresses and suits gathered.
Staff and community rallied together. Dresses and suits were donated from Rainbows End in Oneonta, as well as Delaware Opportunities. Salvation Army donated ties. Chet Delameter, who adorn a three-piece suit and top hat for the ball, provided his professional DJ business at no cost. To help prepare, Kathleen Jones taught Waltz lessons for a month and refused to take a penny.
The staff at Thrive spent at least one hour, every day, working on decorations. Rachel’s class cut out hearts to be hung, pictures were wrapped like Valentine’s letters, and cotton balls were strung and hung giving the Ball the snow ball feel. Jodi, the Associate Personnel Director, bought black paper bags which she glued together at home, then brought in and she and the business office staff cut them into beautiful snowflakes to be hung from the ceiling. Stephanie Nelson graciously volunteered every day to help work on decorations as well as altering dresses to fit people perfectly. Liz Bowie was another key person who helped to donate suits and dresses. Baldi emphasized how there were so many key players from the community and staff from all departments at every DelArc location who worked tirelessly to make this event possible.
The excitement from all the dresses and suits donated from the community, staff, family and friends made one of the biggest impacts. One suit in particular, a three-piece suit worn at his wedding, was donated by Jessica Baldi’s brother-in-law, to Brian Sprague. The day of the event, Brian couldn’t wipe the smile from his face. He glowed as he proudly wore the three-piece suit, so much so, that Baldi’s brother-in-law told him to keep the suit so he could wear it at future events.
The excitement spread throughout the program. However, not everyone shared in the excitement. It brought up anxiety in some people who felt comfortable enough to share with staff that they did not want to attend. To alleviate any stress and anxiety, the staff quickly resolved this concern by giving people the option to gather in a separate room, away from all the hustle and bustle of the event. They were able to enjoy an ice cream sundae, taking turns watching their favorite movie clips, or just relaxing with an activity of their choice.
After a long month and a half of preparing, the event was set up and ready to go. People had their suits and dresses picked out, and nails were painted. The evening before the event, Jessica’s cell phone began to ping with notifications from people sharing that they were nervous and excited. Some struggled to sleep, this was a dream that was in many people’s hearts that had finally become a reality.
“People were excited, like a kid on Christmas Eve”-Jessica Baldi
The day finally arrived. February 15. The entire day was mapped out for this event. Hair and make-up took place in every classroom. After lunch, everyone dispersed to their designated areas to finally adorn their formal attire. The smiles and tears were hard to erase from everyone. Henry looked in the mirror and with amazement said, “oh, is that me”.
When people were finished with their lunch, hair and make-up complete, dresses and suits zipped and buttoned, everyone waited patiently in the cafeteria for the big event to begin. Finally, the doors were opened and the Ball had begun. People lined up and took turns walking through the silver door curtains onto the red carpet and into the fully decorated room.
Our guest servers were The Arc’s very own, Molly Little (CEO) and Joe Malone (CFO). They truly demonstrated ‘those we SERVE come first’ by passing out tea sandwiches and sparkling juices in champagne flutes. People danced, took photos at the photo booth, and just enjoyed hanging out with their friends.
“It was great, thank you Jessica Baldi”- Brian Sprague
The Winter Snow Ball was a trial run that took place at Thrive. It was not opened to the public with the intention of using this as a learning opportunity to gage the interest in a larger, similar event, and helping to identify all the details and aspects of putting together such an event.
Even though it was not opened to the public, an exception was made. Laura-Jean, a member of Thrive, had a couple surprise guests. Tara, Laura-Jean’s sister, and her co-worker/friend, Scott, Laura-Jean’s buddy, took off work from the Andes Hotel to surprise Laura-Jean. Scott brought her a matching corsage making her day even more special.
“I really liked it a lot, taking pictures with friends and dancing”- Princess Pearl
The staff met up with Joan from Walton’s First Baptist Church to discuss ideas for another formal event to take place towards the end of the year, which will be opened to the community.
If anyone is interested in volunteering or donating items for future events, please contact Catherine Tweedie in the Community Relations Department of DelArc, firstname.lastname@example.org.