There was a large turnout for the Sylvia Ross Home open house last week to celebrate the life and times of the assisted living facility’s benefactor.
Over 70 people attended a fashion show in the home’s main lobby opened to the public last Thursday afternoon. Folks gathered to see models dressed in period appropriate costumes, each depicting moments in Ross’ life from the late 1800s up to the 1960s.
“[Thursday] was a smashing success. We just had a wonderful time. We had a lot of people and it was just very well received,” said Jane French, director of the Sylvia Ross Home.
The tribute remembered Ross’ birth in 1877, her time at school in Boston in the early 1900s, as a mature woman shopping in Bar Harbor, passing on her legacy to the legacy fund and more.
An announcer summarized highlights from Ross’ life to Thursday’s audience as each model descended the main lobby’s spiral staircase. Models were made up of volunteers from local schools as well as employees of the facility dressed in costumes borrowed from Dover-Foxcroft community theater.
One version of Ross was met by her chauffeur who then walked the model through the audience. Afterwards, attendees took photographs and had champagne, sparkling water and cupcakes.
“We just had a really good time,” French said. “I just think I didn’t expect the level of joy that I was seeing in people they and really got it, what we were trying to do, and the fun that people had with the costumes, both the people that wore them and the people that were enjoying seeing them, it just generated a lot of interest because many people that are here also remember the fashions of the 1940s and the 1960s and that was just kind of an interesting conversational point.”
The Sylvia Ross Home has been on Broadway Street in Bangor for just under a decade and this event was a first for the facility and French said there could possibly be similar events in the future.
“I thought about (the fashion show) a couple years ago because we benefit from (Ross’) generosity and It’s our way of honoring her and saying thank you,” French said.
Ross inherited her wealth from her father who profited from Maine’s lumber industry. She continued her family’s legacy after leaving money in a trust, managed by Ross Care, a Northern Light Health affiliate.
“She was just very kind to and loved older people, so when she passed she left quite a bit of money,” French said.
Ross Care screens applicants who reside in its assisted living facility who need financial assistance and provides them with an annual grant of up to $2,000 a month to help pay the cost of living at Sylvia Ross Home.
“Here was this wonderful woman with all the resources in the world and she really had the foresight to take care of people in her community and thought about someone other than herself,” French said. “And I think today so many people that are famous and rich just think about their bigger diamonds or their dog that they carry around in a purse or something vapid like that and she didn’t. She just had the foresight and carried through on the need. Sometimes older people aren’t considered valuable–we know there are things that are more in the spotlight or sexy to raise money for and here she has this great legacy that is helping a lot of nice people, so she was a great lady.”
The Sylvia Ross Home is always in need of volunteers, French said. Folks with a talent or interest are welcomed to the facility to share their stories or listen to stories from residents.
“Maybe if they have a skill that’s like flower arranging or paper folding or painting that we would love to match them with an older person,” French said. “Maybe take somebody to church once in a while, take someone to the symphony, things like that. It doesn’t have to be every week for the rest of your life, but some great drop-in visits or run a karaoke night or do a puzzle there’s all kinds of fun stuff that we would love to have people feel welcome to come in and help us with.”