Above, revelers at last year’s Spring Fling

New activities, new funding give Resource Center’s senior program new vitality

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer

Resource Center kicks off its rebranded Thrive program with Spring Fling, a dance and get-together for those over 50, at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 22 at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road. Admission is free.

Resource Center’s Community Programs Manager Cami Fields said the reaction to the rebranding has been positive. In fact, she said, the former name, Gray Pride, might have even been discouraging people from attending.

Fields said people told her they didn’t attend the Gray Pride events because they weren’t “gray,” and they didn’t “feel like a senior.”

But when Fields mentioned the new name to group members, they’ve told her Thrive is what the program’s really about.

Cami Fields

One attendee said, “Being a bit of an introvert I’ve been inspired to come out of my shell by the good people of Gray Pride, the staff and participants alike. I look forward to Gray Pride becoming Thrive, as the name reflects what the organization has helped me to do and I hope that others will avail themselves of all they have to offer.”

Recently, the Episcopal-affiliated Ministry With the Aging Inc. donated proceeds from the sale of a property in East Dallas to a number of organizations that work with seniors. Resource Center received $50,000 from MWAI, and those funds will go toward expanding Thrive’s programming.

“Last year we had about 600 visits from community members to our programming,” Fields said, adding that she hopes to see that number double this year.

Several of those who participate have been people who came out later in life. Others are people who’ve begun to lose partners and friends as they age. Finding new ways to socialize is important to them.

A counseling intern working through Resource Center’s partnership with Southern Methodist University’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development facilitates a support group that meets from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. on Mondays. The meeting is followed by lunch and socializing until 3 p.m.

Thrive hosts a a social activity on the third Thursday of each month. Usually it’s something like a mixer or game night at Resource Center, but some months it’s an outing to go bowling or to a movie. Food and drinks are usually included.

“Every activity is free,” Fields said, explaining that she doesn’t want cost to be a barrier to attendance since some seniors are living on a fixed income. So when Thrive goes bowling, Resource Center picks up the tab, she noted.
Fields said Gray Pride was framed too much as a social services program, which meant the program was missing those in the 50-to-65 age range.

“We want to bring people together,” she said. “Come just for fun.”

And since changing the name, Fields said, they’ve already seen new faces.

Thrive is partnering with other senior resources, like AARP and The Senior Source, to offer informational events and other services.

Serena Smuckers

Fields said they’re still exploring the ways the organizations can work together to benefit their participants.

Fields, who also manages Resource Center’s Youth First and Women With Pride programs, said one of the best presentations she’s seen was when a group of Thrive regulars talked about the history of Dallas LGBT community to Youth First members. She said the personal stories really resonated with the youth group.

Some senior programs around the country are more robust, Fields acknowledged. The Los Angeles LGBT Center has programming four days a week, for example, and Fields said she’d love to see Thrive grow to that level.

Spring Fling takes place at Resource Center on Friday, March 22. Guests are encouraged to wear their brightest spring attire for a free celebration filled with music, dancing and heavy hors’ d’oeuvres. Beer, wine and specialty cocktails themed just for the arrival of the season will be served at an open bar. Photo opportunities and assorted raffle prizes add to the evening’s fun.

Fields said new participants keep telling her they’ve been thinking of coming to an event for a long time.

“If you’re thinking about going, just come,” Fields said. “You’ll have a good time and won’t regret it.