Annabelle Pinkham and Nora Robinson of Bangor attended their first prom Friday night wearing glittering dresses and corsages from their husbands.
Their attire was typical for a night of dancing, but Pinkham and Robinson aren’t at the stage of life when they and their peers are typically attending prom. At 82 and 74 respectively, they were attending a “senior” prom to support a Brewer-based nonprofit.
The Eastern Area Agency on Aging held a “senior” prom fundraising event at Morgan Hill Event Center in Hermon that raised more than $5,000, according to Dan Frye, the agency’s development director.
All funds raised from the event will be used to support the agency’s work helping older adults, caregivers and adults with disabilities in Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock and Washington counties.
A live band played while a photographer took classic couples photos. The event also featured raffles and a silent auction.
Frye said the support comes at a time when the nonprofit has been grappling with a rising need for its services, coupled with rising costs to deliver them. Last year, the nonprofit helped nearly 10,000 older adults, caregivers, and adults with disabilities, Frye said.
“Not only has the need increased with COVID, but Maine has the oldest population, so the numbers are only up as people age into our services,” Frye said. “We’ve also seen our food and gas costs increase several times this year. Those have been two big factors and the cost for everything else is rising.”
Frye said the nonprofit had been hoping to hold a fundraiser for quite some time, and decided on the prom-themed event after other opportunities fell through during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nonprofit previously held a senior expo event to raise funding each spring, Frye said.
Frye said the nonprofit’s Meals on Wheels program serves about 700 older adults in the region — more than double the 300 recipients prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Meals on Wheels enrollment peaked at 1,200 recipients over the past few years, he said.
While the agency’s annual operating budget has remained at roughly $4 million over the past few years, Frye said, the cost to sustain the Meals on Wheels program has risen in tandem with the inflating cost of food and gas, as the nonprofit reimburses drivers who deliver the meals.
In March, the agency opened its new Durgin Center in Brewer’s Twin City Plaza on State Street. Named for Nelson Durgin, a former Bangor City Council chair and advocate for seniors who died in 2020, the community center offers activities, classes, meals and opportunities to socialize for hundreds of seniors in the agency’s four-county service area.
The center’s formal opening also marked the first time the Bangor area has had a community gathering spot for seniors since 2015, when the former Hammond Street Senior Center closed.