RIT students and St. John’s Home residents partake in Cupid Shuffle Prom festivities. Photo courtesy of Rose Chin.

Students at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) had fun hanging out with seniors on Valentine’s Day. Only these seniors didn’t come from a fraternity house, they came from St. John’s Home, a skilled nursing community in Rochester, NY. 

“Lots of them were playing cards or even just strolling down the hallways,” said St. John’s Home therapeutic recreation specialist AmySue Ras. “We have so many pictures of the Rochester community hanging in the hallways, and just seeing them reminiscing from two different perspectives was amazing.”

Over the St. Valentine’s holiday, St. John’s Home and RIT students organized and attended an intergenerational “Cupid Shuffle Prom.” Complete with dancing, doughnuts from Rochester’s own Donuts Delite, and Cupid’s punch (with or without a little “spike”), the prom was a huge success and plans are in place to make it an annual tradition. According to Ras, the party idea was initiated by the students and they were integral to its success.

“They were fabulous and very professional, asking all questions and we just kind of went back and forth on each other with ideas,” said Ras. “They were fabulous. I was very impressed with the whole entire group and their work ethic.”

Not only did the seniors and students enjoy a dance together, they also competed in a balloon volleyball tournament over the weekend of March 4-5. It brought out the competitive spirit in students and residents alike and set the stage for more collaborations. 

“It was a sorority group that reached out to us saying they could have up to 80 people come out and we were trying to think of something fun to do,” said Ras. “In March, we kind of go along with the March Madness of basketball but we know our folks love volleyball.”

Fortunately, this is only the beginning of a long and fruitful friendship. There will be even more for students and residents to do together once springtime is in full bloom. 

“We have a Lilac Festival here in Rochester in May and the event usually kicks off with a parade. We’re going to actually have some of those students come back and help bring our elders outside and enjoy the parade,” said Ras. “This is an amazing connection that we just stumbled upon, and the students had so much fun. They just want to come back and give, which I think is amazing.”