Toronto

Seniors' prom a chance for Holocaust survivors to live a milestone they never had

The North York facility Baycrest organized a year-end prom for its senior residents, much like their younger counterparts enjoyed in recent weeks.
Holocaust survivor Mendel Good, 92, finally goes to prom. (Gary Asselstine/CBC)

Mendel Good is glowing.

He is touched by the sight of fellow residents at Baycrest singing and dancing at prom — a rite of passage for many that these seniors did not get to experience.

Like Good, some of the North York facility's residents are survivors of the Holocaust and the Second World War. So the centre organized a year-end prom, much like what their younger counterparts enjoyed in recent weeks.

Residents dance the afternoon away. (Gary Asselstine/CBC)

Born in Poland, the 92-year-old lived through several concentration camps and the loss of his entire family.

"There is hardly anything in my life that gives me pleasure but this does give me pleasure," he told CBC Toronto.

"It means so much to me that it's very difficult to describe."

Seniors celebrate first prom

6 years ago
Duration 1:00
Residents at Baycrest Health Sciences celebrate prom for the first time because they were Holocaust survivors.

Nearly 300 residents were there for the festivities with '50s-esque flair, including an Elvis impersonator and mock casino. 

A senior shares a moment with the King of Rock 'n' Roll. (Gary Asselstine/CBC)

"I've seen over and over again the healing power of music here," said Baycrest volunteer Margaret Nightingale.

"This is just one other way to pull everyone together; to celebrate each other; our caregivers, our doctors, our nurses."

It is the second year Baycrest organized a prom night, or rather afternoon.

"They go back to their rooms and have wonderful memories," she said.

Baycrest volunteer Margaret Nightingale says the prom event brings residents as well as their caregivers together. (Gary Asselstine/CBC)

Good remarks that barely any of those living it up at the prom are under 90.

"I tell you when I see that — my heart grows."

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