Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Eight female residents of the Golden Crest Assisted Living Community in Morrow took to the runway on Thursday, in an effort to give Naomi Campbell, Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks a run for their supermodel money.
The residents, ranging in age from 77 to 96, were participants in Golden Crest's first-ever senior citizens fashion show. They walked, and in some cases twirled and cha-cha'd, their way down a red carpet in a meeting room at the assisted-living facility, on the arms of cadets from Morrow High School's Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) unit.
"This was fun -- more fun than a barrel of monkeys," said 92-year-old Erin "Pat" Vaughan.
The fashion show was one activity, in a monthly series of events, that Golden Crest does for its residents, according to the facility's lifestyles engagement coordinator, Gery Saunders. She said she had done beauty pageants at previous assisted-living centers where she's worked, but wanted to get the seniors involved in something that would not turn into a competition between the residents.
"For me, the best part was watching the ladies pick out their outfits, and all of the smiles and the excitement they had," Saunders said.
The residents modeled clothing donated by the Dress Barn clothing store in McDonough, and wore corsages that were donated by Conner's Florist in Morrow, Saunders said.
The residents who were transformed into models were Vaughan; June Mantle, 86; Emily Shinall, 80; Mary Robinson, 77; Carrie Prince, 96; Ligarye Hicks, 86; Edna Deal, 86, and Ruby Dooley, 89.
As the JROTC cadets escorted each model down the red carpet to the cheers of the residents' family members, Golden Crest employees and other residents, Atlanta-based musician, Jeni Michelson, played the keyboard and sang songs like "Hey, Good Looking," "New York, New York," and "Rocky Top."
The cadets and models strode, and sometimes danced, down the red carpet, then turned and walked back down the carpet in the opposite direction, before one final turn and walk down the runway.
The outfits worn by the models ranged from party dresses, to blouses with pants, to matching pant suits. The ladies also wore necklaces that matched their ensembles.
"To me, it was a little young, but I can wear anything," Prince, Golden Crest's oldest resident, said of her red, white and black, knee-length party dress, which was worn with a red sweater, black hose and red heels.
Golden Crest Executive Director Janet Agnew said the ladies showed that a person can look sharp at any age when they dress up. "It doesn't matter how old or young you are when you dress up, you just look good and you act good," she said. "This fashion show proves you don't have to sit in a rocking chair all day. You can still look fashionable, even in your 90s."
Saunders said looking pretty is something the ladies who live at Golden Crest often aspire to. "They still want their hair done, they want their nails done," she said. "They'll come to breakfast every morning all dressed up. They still care about how they look. It's about keeping that dignity, and self-respect they've always had."
The models and members of the audience were not the only ones enjoying the event. The cadets, many of whom wore big grins as the walked the models down the catwalk, and in some cases danced with them on the red carpet, said they had fun, too.
The JROTC unit's instructor, Lt. Col. Charley James, said the group did two previous activities at Golden Crest, and participated in the fashion show because "one of our core values is service before self."
After the show, some of the cadets said it was just fun to be involved in the event. "As a young adult, I like to help out a person in need," said Cadet Demetrius Yancey, who escorted Deal down the catwalk. "I don't usually get to do stuff like this, so it was a nice experience to walk down the runway with them."
Cadet Whitney Bush, who served as the JROTC unit's photographer, said she liked the energy level of the seniors who served as models during the fashion show. "It just made me want to come back and do more things with them," she said. "They were so energetic, and fun. They made me laugh."
And at least one resident/model enjoyed walking on the arm of a cadet. "He was very nice to me, and he did the twist with me," said Dooley, who cha-cha'd down the catwalk with Cadet Lowell Jones.