October 24, 2017
Suze Diaz… Do you have dreams on your wish list that still need to be realized? No matter how old you are or where you are in life, it’s never too late to have them fulfilled. Teresa Carnes, a resident of the Vista Village Senior Living community, was a lucky lady this past weekend as one of her dream wishes came true.
Vista Village Senior Living is a premiere assisted living and memory care community that focuses on giving their residents the experiences to have the best care and embrace a full, independent, quality of life. One of the opportunity programs that residents are able to participate in is the “Vibrant Life®” program. One component of this program is “Livin’ the Dream”; designed to take a resident’s dream and make it come alive. Ashley Cole, Vista Village’s Senior Vibrant Life Director, loves the challenge of bringing the heart-filled dreams of her residents come to fruition and makes special efforts to create the best day.
Teresa Carnes is a retired ER Nurse’s Aide who worked for many years at the Outpatient Surgery Department at TriCity Hospital. Music has always been part of her life. Wherever there is music, she shines! Teresa used to go dancing back in the day with her husband at the many dances around town and her dream was to have a lesson with a professional dancer. Ashley and the Vista Village Senior Living staff decided to make it happen with a little help from the dynamic instructors at the Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Oceanside.
I went to the dance studio a little early before Teresa and her entourage arrived and was received warmly by owner Kage Hart, who showed me around during a small break before he finished a lesson with one of his students. There were nice, wide areas for dancing with a perfect balance of sound and volume through the speakers strategically placed around the dance floor. A “Dance Like No One is Watching” sign greets you at the front desk. A beautifully painted script “It’s Always Time to Dance” decorates the arch as you enter the dance floor. As I witnessed the lesson in progress, I enjoyed the interaction between teacher and student. The music was highly spirited, the teacher was encouraging, the student was immensely happy. Sitting in the lounge area, I met the other instructors as they came through the studio: warm, friendly, fun, cheerfully energetic and enthusiastic. As they talked about their background in dance, you couldn’t help but want to take a lesson with them right at that moment. I was also able to speak to a few students who were happy to discuss how they came to be a part of the studio family, each one receiving a welcoming embrace by the instructors. Each student shined with smiles as they explained their dance story. I was excited for Teresa and even though I had not met her yet, I felt she would be experiencing her dream at the right place.
Ashley Cole and her assistant, Med Tech Rowena Michelangelo, arrived first with three of Teresa’s friends from Vista Village Senior Living: Isla, Marie, and Jim. Not only was Teresa going to experience her dream come true, she was going to be having quite the dance party and sharing the experience with her friends! Then Teresa arrived looking wonderful in a plush royal purple dress matched with a purple and white flowered jacket. Her hair beautifully styled and wearing a lovely two-strand pearl necklace with a matching three-strand pearl bracelet. As she walked through the door of the studio, you could feel her excitement building as she walked across the dance floor to where her friends were eagerly waiting with anticipation. Her daughter, Barbara, was also there to share in the momentous fun and was delighted to see her mother and her friends ready for the afternoon’s festivities.
Instructors Joseph Currington, JD Cantrell and Ashley Quibilan started the dance party by leading the group onto the dance floor to teach the first practice steps to the waltz. The air was filled with joy as Isla, Teresa and Jim were in the hands of the professionals with Marie on the side, smiling and giving her two thumbs up in approval. There were plenty of smiles and a lot of laughter between the instructors and the resident students. After a few songs into the lesson, it was time to take a little break to relax and replenish with refreshments. During the break, Ashley Quibilan and Joseph Currington treated the group to a spectacular performance. Between the tunes of Michael Bolton’s “Missing You Now”, Toni Basil’s “Mickey” and Santana’s “Smooth” (featuring Rob Thomas), we were mesmerized by the fluid partnership between the two instructors as they executed the different dance styles from the waltz to the Argentinean tango. Then Owner Kage Hart and Ashley Quibilan took to the floor to give us a beautiful introduction to the international ballroom style of dancing. Then Joseph took a moment to take Ashley Cole for a spin around the dance floor to teach her the merengue.
Seeing such beautiful exhibits of the different techniques encouraged the group to come back to the dance floor and show the instructors their moves. Switching back to the music of their era, I caught glimpses of each one of the resident’s faces and it seemed as if they were transported back in time and remembering fond memories of their younger days. There was a sense of nostalgia in the air as each one danced more intently and with such confidence showing in their body. The rest of the group was thrilled in seeing these beautiful moments unfold. It was truly a lovely sight to see. As we neared the last dance of the lesson, Teresa and Kage took to the floor and gracefully waltzed to Michael Buble’s “At This Moment”.
There was yet one more surprise waiting for Teresa: She was awarded with the “Living The Dream” certificate to commemorate her big day. Signed by all of the instructors and Ashley Cole, it is sure to be a treasured memento of an outstanding day.
I have much love and admiration for Teresa Carnes for allowing me to be a part of her Vibrant Life experience. She is a sweet, dynamic and caring lady and I am thrilled her dream came true. I have much love and appreciation to Isla, Marie, Jim, Barbara, Ashley Cole and Rowena Michelangelo for such a fantastically fun time. Huge love, admiration and respect to Kage Hart, Joseph Currington, Ashley Quibilan, and JD Cantrell for their warmth and compassion in working with Ashley Cole and Vista Village Senior Living community to make Teresa’s dream a reality.