Dancing delight

GREENFIELD — Jodi is more of a blue-jeans-and-T-shirt kind of gal, and everybody knows it. So, even as her friends started getting excited about Valentine’s Day, picking out their outfits and finalizing their pampering plans, Jodi needed a little convincing before she put on a dress and got dolled up for Developmental Services Alternatives’ first formal dance.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, hundreds of people came to Greenfield for a holiday dance. Attendees were the residents and caregivers of Developmental Service Alternatives’ 16 group homes, which cater to people with disabilities.

The event is an annual affair, made more special this year thanks to the kindness of a few private donors. The residents came to Adaggios in Greenfield on Friday dressed to the nines, many of the women wearing prom dresses and ball gowns donated by area residents and altered for free to fit their frames, organizers said.

Planning for the dance started about nine months ago, after Developmental Service Alternatives received a clothing donation that included dozens of formal dresses, said Sara Tucker, a residential director for the company.

It took weeks to pair each resident with the perfect dress, Tucker said. The men received new outfits, too, many choosing shirts and ties to match their date’s dress, she said.

Before the dance Friday evening, caregivers like Tucker helped residents get ready and put the final touches on their attire.

Jodi, whose last name was not disclosed, and her housemates took turns having their hair and make-up done by Tucker and other caregivers. By the time Jodi was dressed in her blue sparkly gown, with her hair curled and cheeks blushed, the self-described tomboy admitted she was excited to hit the dance floor.

Developmental Service Alternatives is a Greenfield-based company. Its president, Doug Dugger, also owns Adaggios Banquet Hall, and he opens the facility to residents for gatherings several times a year.

Friday, he served as the DJ for the dance, and board members with the Arc of Hancock County served as the decorating committee — proof of how the community serving those with special needs comes together to make sure everyone has a good time, Dugger said.

“Everybody does their part to make it work,” he said.

Laurel Stewart, an area director for DSA, said this Valentine’s Day dance seemed more exciting than the other programs the company hosts for its residents.

It’s not often the residents of the company’s group homes have a chance to get dressed up and hit the town, Stewart said. But being pampered is a treat, and the energy leading up the dance was enough to make anyone excited, she said.

“I think makes them feel good about themselves,” she said.

Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.