Two men stand and pose for a photo. One man with brown hair, a mustache and beard is wearing a white and grey polo, the other man is clean shaved wearing a hat and a navy pullover.

For more than thirty years, Mike P. has been attending the St. Louis Arc Club South Dance. What started as a fun activity to do on Friday nights, has transformed into friendships, purpose, and ongoing community connection.  

In the beginning, Mike was an observer at the dances. He listened to the band, and watched others as they danced and had fun.  While he only spoke to a few dancers, he had many conversations with the volunteers. Through the years, Mike began building friendships with the volunteers and talking to members of the band. As he became comfortable in the environment, he started coming early and helping with setting up the tables and chairs. He then noticed a need for assistance helping the band members set up and take down their band equipment.  Always an observer, Mike decided he could help with whatever the volunteer program leader needed each night. 

Building Skills

As the years passed, Mike asked if he could volunteer to help with check-in at the dances. The challenge, for both Mike and the volunteer program leader Matt, was Mike did not have a strong skill set with money. Both Matt and the Leisure Coordinator took on the task of assisting Mike with learning about money management. The more he learned, the more fun he had.  

Mike is very proud to have gone from a participating dancer to a full-fledged St. Louis Arc volunteer. In the past few years, he has continued to grow his skills and can now count back the amount of money his fellow dancers pay, and he also pays the band. 

Community Connection

Additionally, Mike has developed friendships at the dances. After 30 years of Arc dances, Mike’s friendship with Matt has grown, and they drive to the dances together each month.  His willingness to assist the band has also allowed him to develop a relationship with the band members. Dances have allowed Mike  to stay active and engaged after retiring from his job of 37 years. After 30 years of attending the dance, Mike was asked why he kept going back. “I like to dance and meet new people,” said Mike. “I can talk to people and share my smile.” 

If you or someone you know is interested in attending Club South or Club 1240, contact Clinton Hall at 314-817-2293, for more information.