My Wausome Story: Theresa Haase, Community Relations Director, Mountain Terrace Senior Living
Original publication date: January 21, 2022
As the community relations director at Mountain Terrace Senior Living in Wausau, I have had the privilege of getting to know each of our residents and their families on a personal level. I was born and raised in the Wausau area, so many of the residents I now serve have connections to my family or friends that I grew up with. It says a lot about the type of close-knit community Wausau is.
In 2016 I began working at the senior living community here in Wausau. After only a few months of constant contact with residents in our community and hearing story after story from the greatest generation, I began to not only appreciate the awe inspiring stories, but I began to realize how precious these stories were and how important it was that these stories be shared with as many people as possible. Too many people live and pass on, and these stories end with them and are lost forever. An ongoing conversation around the office was trying to figure out a way to give these great women a voice or a platform of some sort to be able to tell these stories to the generation of today. Coincidentally, after meeting with some friends and other local businesses, one of them mentioned a small 55+ senior pageant they had attended in New York. Immediately, I knew exactly what we were going to do: I was going to create a pageant for Wausau’s senior women. This event would bring together families and friends of all ages, while allowing senior women to tell their stories and celebrate their accomplishments.
I quickly formed a committee and we got to work to plan Wausau’s first ever Silver Pageant. The purpose of the pageant was to showcase the amazing women in our community. Regardless of their physical ability or finances, we wanted to make sure this was an event that they and their families would never forget. We worked with several local businesses to provide free services to the participants, including personal headshots, videos, makeup, hair, gifts, jewelry, donated formal dresses, as well as professional photography during the event itself. The entire experience and every detail was free for the participants.
The first ever Silver Pageant, which took place in February 2019, was a beautiful success. We haven’t been able to find the right words to describe it. The day was filled with emotions. There was laughter, tears, and awe inspiring stories, talents, videos, and photos shared that forever changed the lives of those in attendance. All of the contestants shined and looked absolutely stunning up on stage. It was incredibly moving. Comments such as, “Next year, you should hand out tissues with the playbills,” and, “Seriously, the best show I’ve ever been to here in Wausau,” were commonplace.
The women and the families involved in the pageant have all expressed such gratitude for the event. The experience was life-changing for each and every one of us. Not only was the event fun but participants have told me that the time they were able to spend preparing caused them to reflect on their lives and reminisce with their children and loved ones. It gave them a reason to share their stories, stories their children hadn’t heard, stories that may have never been told. Many of them expressed their appreciation as they were able to gather their whole family together which they hadn’t done in a long time.
Fundamentally, the people of Wausau are what make our community so unique. The people here rally around each other’s struggles and celebrate each other’s victories. The pageant could not have been possible without the amazing business owners and friends in the Wausau area. Each area we needed filled, from photos to food, they stepped in and made it happen. We now have life-long friendships and connections in the community that are greater than anything we can measure. What started as a fun community event developed into a life changing experience for myself and all those that participated! Planning is already underway for the next Silver Pageant. We have some amazing women that live in our community and I’m so glad that this event allows us to celebrate them.