COLONIE – Strike a pose ladies. It’s time to model some springtime fashions along the Colonie catwalk.
Colonie Senior Services Centers, Inc. will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Mother’s Day fashion show and luncheon Friday, May 12, inside the Lakeview Room of the Beltrone Living Center, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The annual event supports senior transportation opportunities in the region.
Four seniors from three CSSC senior-living communities were chosen to model clothing from Chico’s at Stuyvesant Plaza while being escorted by members of the Colonie Police Department. The annual event, according to CSSC Director Diane Conroy-LaCivita, draws about 250 people yearly.
Conroy-LaCivita was employed elsewhere when she modeled in the first fashion show 24 years ago. Fast forward to now where she is the center’s director and runs the annual event. To bring this even more full circle, she sometimes fills in with transportation. The proceeds raised at the show will help fund the center’s transportation services, an expensive but vital service.
“Transportation is not a money maker,” Conroy-LaCivita said, “but as an organization, it is the core to keeping seniors involved and active in our community.”
CSSC is responsible for buying, insuring and maintaining the buses that transport seniors to medical appointments, shopping outings, volunteer opportunities in the community, and social and cultural events. They must also pay and insure the driver.
Colonie Senior Services Center is in Albany County, but its transportation serves five surrounding counties. The agency uses its 12 buses Monday through Friday to bring seniors to the doctor, dentist, pharmacy, chemotherapy and grocery shopping.
Many seniors, Conroy-LaCivita said, want to stay in the community but do not want to drive. She said many of them are afraid of driving on Wolf Road, Latham Circle and the Northway or don’t like driving at night.
Seniors who take the bus could pay a suggested fare of $5 or not pay for the service. It depends on the individual situation, she said.
The show goes on
“The fashion show is a good example of us having a joyous occasion,” Conroy-LaCivita said.
Because it’s around Mother’s Day, the show brings mothers, daughters and grandmothers together to enjoy a celebratory day of fashion, self expression and women’s camaraderie. It also strengthens the connection between senior women and the police.
“When you pair the female model up with the male officer, and those officers are twirling them around. They’re making them feel just like a million bucks,” Conroy-LaCivita said. “So often, seniors and their interactions with police are usually not a good occasion and to do something that’s celebratory and fun; it is a good time.”
The pandemic has scaled back the show in recent years. In the past, CSSC used male models and also JROTC cadets from Albany High School to escort the women down the runway. According to Conroy-LaCivita, the police officers were a later addition. When the first police officers appeared on the catwalk, the approval from the audience was immediate and positive and prompted many more “oohs and ahhhs.”
“So we thought, well, we’re onto something. … The police officers really get into it, and it’s great.” Conroy-LaCivita said. “A couple of officers have done it multiple years because they enjoy doing it.”
The senior population has changed at the center to include individuals from the LGBTQ community and seniors who take classes in learning English as a second language. Many are recent immigrants from Afghanistan, Ukraine, South Korea and China.
“Seniors are still relevant. We respect them and they’re a part of this community.” Conroy-LaCivita said. “Maybe they’re retired but they are still lifelong learners and we want to make sure they know that they’re important to us.”
More information on purchasing tickets for the fashion show and luncheon is available online at www.colonieseniors.com or contacting the office at (518) 459-2857 ext.302.