Photo by Kelly White
Helen Smiles and Bud Schweppe, of Oak Lawn, danced the night away on Nov. 23 at Shepard High School in Palos Heights at the Leo Club's annual Moonlight Harvest Senior Citizen Dance.
By Kelly White
For the 10 th year in a row, Shepard High School’s Leo Club put on their dancing shoes to jive alongside local senior citizens.
The club hosted its 1950s-themed Moonlight Harvest Senior Citizen Dance on Nov. 23 in the school’s gymnasium at 13049 S. Ridgeland Ave., Palos Heights.
“ I think it’s wonderful that the Leo Club puts together this great night for us,” said Helen Smiles of Oak Lawn.
Shepard’s Leo Club is a community service club with 32 active members that meets every other Wednesday. The club is affiliated with the Worth Lions Club, and is dedicated to helping both the high school and the local community.
“ Community service is very near and dear to me,” said Camille A. Tunstall, Leo Club advisor and teaching assistant for Career and Technical Education at Shepard. She is also the school’s African American Cultural Awareness Club advisor. “ I recently traveled to the Bahamas with my sorority Zeta Phi Beta to perform community service work. Instilling a love for giving back in young people is something I’m good at and believe the world is a better place because we give back.”
Some of the many service activities the club has participated in include: preparing meals for Ronald McDonald House, volunteering at Feed my Starving Children, serving the hungry through Catholic Charities, assisting in programming at elementary schools and park districts, making blankets for the NICU at Little Company and Project Linus, making crafts and running bingo at Providence Nursing Home, seasonal clean up at Little Company of Mary Hospital, and working the Christmas tree lot for the Worth Lions.
Although it’s difficult to choose a favorite service project that takes place throughout the academic calendar, Leo Club members said the Senior Citizen Dance is always a highlight of the year.
"The Senior Citizens Dance that Shepard is gracious enough to host not only brings joy to the senior citizens, but also to the volunteers,” said Hector Cabrera, 17, of Alsip, the Leo Club secretary. “The dance is a time where everyone can just relax and have fun, a thing we all need once in a while"
All 150 of the senior citizens in attendance were contacted through flyers mailed to their homes and surrounding community centers, newspaper announcements, along with flyers that were placed by students in stores and community centers throughout the local area.
Some attendees have been coming since the dance originated in 2009, including Audrey Kyrouac, who travels all the way from Bourbonnais to dance the night away with her friends and sister.
“ It’s such a fun night with great music,” Kyrouac said. “We love it and really look forward to it every year.”
The students agreed.
"The annual dance is a joyous time for the seniors of our communities and for our Leo Club members, as well,” said Jae'da Thompson, 16, of Calumet Park, the Leo Club president.
During the evening, seniors were also able to enjoy a dinner provided by Country House Restaurant in Alsip, with a dessert of root beer floats and sundaes. Attendees had the option to play bingo, participate in a Hula Hoop contest, a dance contest, and a 1950s television trivia contest, as well.
“ Leo Club members benefit by providing a fun night with dinner, dancing and games for our elders who deserve to still have fun at their golden ages,” Tunstall said. “Community service is what Leo Club is all about. They also learn how to plan, organize and execute events and activities.”
Musical entertainment was provided by the Big Band-Peter Oprisko Orchestra (formerly known as the world renowned Teddy Lee Orchestra).
Funding for the band was made possible through a donation from the Worth Lions Club of $1,800.
"I love the Senior Citizens Dance,” said Alexis Olive, 16, of Calumet Park, who handles public relations and marketing for the Leo Club. “It is always so much fun and something I always look forward to.”