Seniors, staff at Jefferson Health Care Center mark mock wedding
Nothing brings people together quite like a wedding — even if the matrimony was feigned. The residents of the Jefferson Health Care Center expressed their longing for attending weddings with Carol Prendergast, the activities director, which led her to plan a mock wedding.
“This all came about from a simple coffee and tea conversation during one of our coffee and tea chit-chat hours where we talk to the residents,” Prendergast explained. “Kimberly Pessa, my assistant activities director, was talking to them about being in a wedding in September. They wanted to hear about it and said ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we could go to a wedding again!’”
Monica Arthur, the mock bride and recreation aide, was in the room during that discussion and offered to bring the wedding to them by volunteering her husband, Dale Arthur, to do their nuptials in front of the residents.
“We talked about it, got old gowns together and rolled with it,” Prendergast said.
With roughly 30 residents in the recreation room, Monica was walked down the aisle by her stepfather Jules Appel right up to her beloved husband Dale. Mary Lazaro, a recreation aide at Jefferson, was the officiant. She said a few kind words before asking if Dale and Monica would take each other to be husband and wife. They said “I do” and the reception started — no cocktail hour necessary.
Monica spoke about what the mock wedding means to her. “It was exciting, we’ve been married for 17 years. Our daughter went to the Air Force and our son is a senior in high school. It was a fun personal thing for us to do as a family as well.”
Dale, a respiratory therapist at Jefferson, added what it meant to him. “For me, what was exciting was Monica is so excited about coming to work and spending time with the residents and it makes her happy to do this kind of stuff. It’s a nice event and I’m glad I could be a part of it.”
Back at the reception, Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas” was playing and intern/bridesmaid McKayla Earley was dancing with resident Ray DiClaudio. Earley, a recreational therapist aide, was more than thrilled to be a part of the special occasion.
“It’s awesome, even though I just started in June they wanted me to be a bridesmaid and have a big part in the wedding,” she said. “It’s amazing. They make it feel like home, like I’ve known them for years.”
“I try to make their days because they make mine every day. I truly love coming to work,” Earley said of the residents.
For bridesmaid and resident Jean Arena, she found joy in the simplest parts of the wedding. “My favorite part was when everyone was walking in,” she said.
Arena added the wedding itself was wonderful and the food was very good.
“We’re doing this for the residents,” Prendergast said. “We’re bringing the community into the center for them to have a good time. We’re all about having fun for them. The littlest thing they ask us for — whether it be an ice cream social or a mock wedding and everything in between. We’re all about making their lives happier, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about making them the center of attention every day.”