The Saint Anselm Crier

A Connected Community: the 26th Annual Anselmian Valentine’s Day Dance

Payton Gullikson, Guest Writer

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Each year around Valentine’s Day, the friends of Saint Anselm  College return to the campus for the Meelia Center’s Annual Valentine Day Dance. Generations of students have welcomed these guests, individuals with intellectual and developmental challenges and their families, with nothing but love and a desire to dance the day away.  

On February 10th, the Meelia Center for Community Engagement hosted their 26th annual Valentine’s Day Dance.  Over 300 Saint Anselm student volunteers and community guests that traveled all over southern New Hampshire came together to share in some Anselmian hospitality and cheer while making crafts, dancing, and having a great time!

Red and pink decorations filled the Carr Center, and with help from the great folks from Physical Plant, the gym became a dancehall.  For many guests, the Valentine’s Day Dance is equivalent to prom. There were plenty of snacks, refreshments, and seating but best of all there was dancing to the music provided by the awesome sounds of DJ Meghan James, Class of ‘18.   There were over twenty craft tables hosted by various clubs and organizations on campus. New this year, guests had the opportunity to get their picture taken and printed in front of a giant balloon heart backdrop.

The magic of the dance comes from the  guests and students being themselves and enjoying the moment. Sarah, a caregiver who attended the event, says, “This is the one event I can come to and know that my child will be okay and won’t have to worry about the judgment she gets on a regular basis.” Many of the guests look forward to the dance every year, which creates a special community for all those that choose to attend.

Morgan, a young adult who has been attending the dance since she was 6 years old, says, “This dance is my favorite event because I can dance with all the cute boys and I look forward to it every year!”

Sally Long, a parent and head of the Milford Special Needs group says, “We have been coming for over 20 years and haven’t missed a year yet. What a unique opportunity for our kids to interact with college students, and seeing them put their whole heart into the event is inspiring!”  Sally says she coordinates carpools and brings over 35 members of their group to the dance each year.

Katie Hartford, a sophomore student volunteer, says, “The valentines dance is my favorite event of the year because it gives you the opportunity to make someone feel truly special and supported. The atmosphere of the dance is filled with joy and everyone has a smile on their face.”  For college students, the dance is an opportunity to connect with people in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

A big thanks to the students who dedicated their afternoon to create a fun-loving and inclusive space for all. Next year’s dance will be hosted on February 16 and promises to be just as fun as this year’s! The Meelia Center hopes that you will join us next year.  Thanks to everyone who made the dance possible and memorable for all of our guests this year.  Stay tuned for our next event: Kickball Tournament on April 15th for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico!

 

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A Connected Community: the 26th Annual Anselmian Valentine’s Day Dance