Real People: Girl Scout project benefits senior citizens

Spring is prom season, when high school students don formal finery and dance until dawn. Sarah Bock is just a sophomore at South Forsyth High, yet she already has a clear sense of the prom’s significance.

“For seniors, it’s often the biggest night of their lives,” said Bock, 16.

Though she’s two years away from having her own big night out, Bock organized a prom earlier this month for 70 seniors - senior citizens who dressed up for three hours of dancing, food and fun to the theme “A Night in Paris.” Bock came up with the idea last December while looking for a community project for her Girl Scout Gold Award.

“At first, I thought of just a dance, but a lot of the centers in this area already had dances for seniors,” she said. “I wanted it to be something really special.”

Bock secured a date at the Sexton Hall Enrichment Center in Cumming and publicized the evening by posting notices at the center, passing out fliers at area senior citizens’ complexes and taking a booth at a Forsyth County senior expo. She recruited sponsors and supporters who donated funds and food. A local DJ volunteered to keep the music going; a photo booth was set up for formal poses.

Bock also recruited local fire fighters, police officers and 50 students from her high school to serve as dance partners and escorts. She insisted that the boys wear dress plants and button-down shirts and that girls wear dresses.

“I went around to the different service clubs at school and explained to them how often senior citizens are abused or don’t get the treatment or respect they deserve,” she said. “A lot of kids have volunteered at senior homes, so they recognized the need. After meeting these people, I think students are more willing to socialize with them now. And the seniors were really appreciative that they had people to dance with.”

As it turned out, the most popular dance of the evening was a line dance that got everyone onto the floor.

“It was pretty cool,” said Bock. “Everyone was having a good time. And it was cool to see the seniors dressed up. Some of them told me they had their hair done just for the prom.”

Because the event was a Girl Scout project, there were strict guidelines about how money could be raised and who could benefit from the project, said Bock’s mom, Nancy.

“She toyed with a lot of different ideas, but I think because both sets of her grandparents are living she knew some of the challenges of older parents who are, in many ways, a disenfranchised group,” she said. “The idea of the senior citizens’ prom was also a good way to connect with high schoolers, too.”

The result was a success, said Apryl Milam, an activities leader for Forsyth County Senior Services.

“Sarah began planning this legacy event last fall, and it’s easy to see how much hard work went into her project,” she said.

Bock’s fundraising brought in about $500, more than enough to cover expenses for the event as well as part of next year’s.

“I plan to run it again for the next two years, but I hope then it will take on a life of its own,” said Bock “It would be great to see it become part of the prom committee at school.”

Every other Wednesday, H.M. Cauley brings you positive stories from our community. To suggest a story idea, e-mail