They came, they mingled, they danced. They are the people of SAAM, or the Social Active Adult Ministry at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Virginia Gardens. Together they make a lively, welcoming and caring cadre of friends, old and new.
The group most recently got together on the night of Saturday, Oct. 11 at the church parish hall in what has become a monthly themed dinner event with activities and fellowship. In keeping with Hispanic Heritage month, the theme on this night was “Latin Appreciation.”
There was Latin food, of course, and the night’s planned activity was a Latin dance demonstration followed by lots of active participation. Committee members brought in Latin dance aficionado Martha Segarra to show them a few moves — a little footwork here, a little hip motion there, and before everyone knew it, they were salsa-ing their way to a great time.
“This is my third time here,” said Mireya Montes. “It’s always active. That’s why I come back. It’s a lot of fun.”
It was a first-time visit for Vicky Sokolowski, who attended with her husband, Mike.
“We came to meet new people in the parish,” she explained. “We’re hoping for new friendships and good music.”
The themed get-togethers at the church parish hall have been a monthly gathering since June and are gaining momentum quickly. If you’re interested in going, there’s good news. Anyone 21 years of age and older can join in. It’s free; all one needs to bring is a potluck dish and a smile.
The organization came about at the request of Blessed Trinity parish priest Father José Alfaro. He asked parishioner Cathay Bradchulis to spearhead the group, and she agreed. Soon after, the ministry, which is meant to bring adults together for friendship and fellowship, was formed. Attendance has ranged between 20 to 40 people, although they are certainly open to more participants.
A typical SAAM gathering works like this: Guests arrive at the parish hall at 7 p.m. with their covered dish, which has been pre-arranged with the potluck coordinator, Haydee Segarra. The first 30 minutes are mingle time — guests circulate, enjoy beverages and get to know each other or catch up. Announcements are made, and prayers are shared. Guests are then ushered over to the buffet table and find a seat at a table to enjoy their meal.
SAAM participants are offered the opportunity to join in a 50/50 raffle, where the winner keeps half of the cash winnings and SAAM keeps the other half. In addition to the cash prize, winners also may get a door prize, which makes winning doubly sweet.
After dessert and coffee, the entertainment for the night begins. It varies from month to month depending on the theme, but the purpose is always the same: to get guests to interact, socialize and connect the old-fashioned way — by talking and engaging in a shared fun activity.
“Past activities have been karaoke, playful games, and general ice-breaker activities,” said committee member Tony Bradchulis. “In one activity, guests wrote their name and three things about themselves on a piece of paper. They crumbled it up and threw the papers across the room in a ‘snowball fight’ for a few minutes. Then they picked up the closest one to them and introduced the person on the paper. It was a fun way to get to know each other.”
Past themes have included a “Return to the ’50s” night, where guests were encouraged to dress in jeans, white T-shirts and penny loafers. Root beer floats and cherry Cokes were served, and there was a karaoke sock-hop and hula hoop activity.
“It’s not a singles group,” added Bradchulis. “SAAM is open to all adults 21 and older. There are married couples as well as single people here. All are welcome. It’s a chance for connecting and fellowship and just having a good time.”
Indeed, the feel in the room on Saturday night was that of camaraderie, caring, and connections being made with others in a supportive environment.
Always held on the second Saturday of the month, next month’s SAAM gathering is slated for Nov. 8 with a Thanksgiving theme, “Attitude of Gratitude.” Guests are asked to wear fall-colored attire and bring Thanksgiving food. There will be a “Being Thankful” activity.
On Dec. 13, the SAAM gathering will be a little different. Instead of a potluck, it will be a “Christmas Dinner Party” with pre-sold $15 tickets for a set menu. There will also be a white elephant gift exchange and other activities.
Anyone interested in joining in the fun can make reservations at 305-883-0579 or firstname.lastname@example.org.