SHU’s Division of Volunteer Efforts partners with South Orange Seniors for second senior gala

Photo Courtesy of Marie Somers From left are Peggy Cinberg, Michelle Peterson, Nan Samons and Tonia Moore.
Photo Courtesy of Marie Somers
From left are Peggy Cinberg, Michelle Peterson, Nan Samons and Tonia Moore.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — More than 125 South Orange senior citizens gathered for the Division of Volunteer Efforts and South Orange Seniors’ second senior gala on April 10. The Cotton Ball Gala, named for the traditional second anniversary gift of cotton, featured dancing, musical entertainment, refreshments and a food drive benefiting Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry in South Orange.

“Our students have a big presence in the South Orange community,” DOVE Director Michelle Peterson said in a release. “It is their home while they are students at Seton Hall, so it is important that we show South Orange that we care about it and its people.”

The partnership between DOVE and the South Orange Seniors formed last year. “The founders of the South Orange Seniors came to meet with me about how DOVE might be able to support their initiatives,” Peterson said. “We have been able to organize the annual dances with them and have coordinated snow shoveling for two senior apartment buildings in South Orange.”

The South Orange Seniors were founded in 2014 by local senior residents Tonia Moore, Nan Samons and Peggy Cinberg. They noticed an opportunity to better engage senior citizens in the community. Today, they are an official nonprofit and conduct regular focus groups in order to understand the needs of local senior citizens.

“From the onset, we were very interested in having intergenerational projects, as age needs to be exhilarated by youth and youth needs to be inspired by age,” Moore said in the release. “Working with Seton Hall gives us the opportunity to get to know and enjoy the students and to have them brighten our whole environment. Their energy and humor are a delight to be around and they make possible exciting events that we very much enjoy.”

Samons added that having Seton Hall and DOVE’s support is a blessing. “It makes the day. Everyone reacted so well to the DOVE students this year and last year. There was such a wonderful intergenerational feeling among all of the attendees.”

“The senior gala is an opportunity for seniors and students to meet each other,” Cinberg said in the release. “It is important for both generations to see that they have a lot in common and appreciate the differences between them.”

The South Orange Seniors hope the event inspires senior citizens and students to form friendships and do more together. They look forward to next year’s senior gala and to partnering with Seton Hall for other events.

“I hope the seniors made wonderful memories at the Cotton Ball Gala and enjoyed forming friendships with our students,” Peterson said.

Next, the South Orange Seniors and the College of Communication and the Arts will premiere a documentary that professor William Pace’s students’ created called “Six.” The film tells the story of six individual life journeys of senior citizens living in South Orange. It will premiere Sunday, May 1, at 1 p.m. at the South Orange Performing Arts Center. A panel discussion with Pace, student filmmakers and documentary stars will immediately follow. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information about DOVE, contact Michelle Peterson at 973-761-9702 or or visit the website here.