MOWSF Blog | Senior Stories
On a Sunday night in June, Katie, a MOWSF volunteer, and her senior pal Zane went out on a special date to the Tonga Room, the legendary restaurant and bar at the Fairmont San Francisco. The date was part of Random Acts of Kindness, a campaign funded by the Brin Wojicki Foundation that let MOWSF volunteers, social workers and meal delivery drivers pick out special gifts for the seniors they support.
Katie first met Zane met a year and a half ago through MOWSF’s Friendly Visitor program. “Our friendship keeps getting better and better,” says Katie, who finds the 89-year-old’s love of life inspirational. “He is a dancer, an artist, a musician and, thanks to MOWSF, my dear friend.”
Zane, who danced for many years danced at a small school in New York City, moved back to San Francisco more than 30 years ago. A few years later, as a “youngster of 75,” he passed his certification course and became a dance teacher. But two years ago, Zane had a stroke. Since then, his balance hasn’t been the same, and he’s had trouble walking. “I still a dream that I don’t need a cane,” he says.
But at the Tonga Room that night, Zane was able to put aside his cane and take a few turns on the bridge-shaped dance floor. “I said, ‘Hold onto me,’ and Katie helped me with my balance,” he says. The charmingly odd-couple also made an impression on their fellow patrons. “Zane was a hit at the Tonga Room,” says Katie, who declared that the music, the food, in fact, everything that evening had been great. A few people even approached them at dinner, offering compliments on their dancing. “Two groups of ladies said how wonderful our dancing was,” Zane recalls.
Melissa Farrar, Public Relations Director at The Fairmont San Francisco, helped Katie and MOWSF coordinate the evening. She snapped a few pictures of the two on their date. “The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar were thrilled to welcome Katie Smith & Zane for dinner and some dancing,” she says.
A few weeks later, as Zane looks over the photos, his professional dancer side gets the better of him. “Next time I’ll stand up straight,” he says, remarking on his posture. “You’re taught as a dancer to stand up straight.” But quickly he goes back to happy memories of the evening again. “Katie was all dressed up, very tasteful and in high heels. And my new dance shoes were so generous,” he says. “It was just wonderful, and everyone was so kind.”