Elegance Meets Romance At Northlake Senior Prom

Carol Whitlock, 78, dancing with her partner, Bob Gaines, 74, at Tuesday’s senior prom. | Shanel Romain 

Sunday, May 29, 2022 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Jeanette Woods, 75, and her partner, Raymond Lopez, 79, met nearly four years ago even though neither of them were looking for romance.

“We had both been single for 20 years,” Woods said. “We met and started having lunch together and so forth and so on. Then we decided we liked each other enough to get an apartment together. We’ve been in the same apartment going on three years.”

Woods and Lopez were among a group of senior citizens gathered atop the Concord Place Retirement Community, 401 W. Lake St. in Northlake, for a senior prom on May 24.

Rachelle Blough-Kowalczyk, Concord’s activity director, alongside her husband, Daniel Kowalczyk, at the senior prom. | Shanel Romain 

Rachelle Blough, Concord’s activities director, said the event was months in the making and done in partnership with Proviso Math and Science Academy, Elmhurst College and Cinderella’s Closet. The latter entity donated over 100 dresses for seniors wanting to participate in the magical night, Blough said.

Woods said the prom was a perfect excuse to leave the confines of their apartment after two years of pandemic confinement.

“This is wonderful,” Woods said. “I was in a nursing home two years before I came here and I wanted to get out so bad and the social worker at the nursing home said you don’t belong here and she told me about Concord.

Raymon Lopez, 79, alongside his partner, Jeannette Woods, 75. | Shanel Romain 

“They’ve always had lots of activities around here before Covid, so it was quite a trial to go through lockdowns and the lack of activities, even living together, but we survived without killing each other. This is a good place.”

Carol Whitlock, 78, and Bob Gaines, 74, were also enthused to finally get out of the apartment they share at Concord.

“This is a wonderful facility that took special care to make sure we were safe,” Whitlock said. “We didn’t like being locked down, but we’re all here.”

Cheryle Ceiling, 70, a resident of Concord Place Retirement Community in Northlake had the idea of a senior prom that finally came to fruition on May 24. | Shanel Romain 

Cheryle Seiling, 70, hatched the idea for the prom and worked with Blough and some other staffers to plan the special night.

“I had the idea a couple of years ago pre-Covid and then covid shut us down and weren’t able to go through with it,” Seiling said. When restrictions were lifted, Seiling said, she decided to bring the idea back to Blough.

Bennetta Spencer, 83, enjoying her first senior prom. Carol Whitlock, 78, dancing with her partner, Bob Gaines, 74, at Tuesday’s senior prom. | Shanel Romain 

During the May 24 event, Seiling was able to savor the fruits of her labor.

“To give residents the opportunity to dress up and enjoy an elegant evening [is great],” she said. “Everything is elegant.”

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