Behind a wig, lipstick and a name tag reading ‘‘Cranston Senior Home Resident” was a middle-aged man asked to pretend to be an elderly woman for a photo-op when no seniors showed up for a press conference touting a program offering high school students extra credit for snow shoveling for senior citizens.
The event took place in Cranston, Rhode Island, outside the Cranston Senior Enrichment Center and featured Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. But the elderly woman standing beside the Mayor was not elderly, nor was it a woman. It was the center’s bus driver in a wig and lipstick.
— Mark Schieldrop (@MarkSchieldrop) January 14, 2016
Cranston Elder Affairs Director Sue Stenhouse asked the driver to dress up when no actual senior citizens were in attendance at the event. When confronted with the accusation by the local NBC affiliate, Stenhouse originally called the allegation “bullshit.” A few days later she admitted the rouse and resigned.
A Stenhouse supporter wrote the following message in her defense on her Facebook page:
Yes folks, this is the story that should be making headlines.
Sue Stenhouse has worked her entire adult life to make the lives of those less fortunate blossom in life. When I first met Sue it was through Special Olympics. She would take time out of her day to go to events to photograph and capture the “victory” on the faces of each and every Special Olympian as they hit their first base run or rolled a strike in bowling.
For those who know Sue, she has never created a bizarre stunt to try to look good for the media. Everything she does is based on her willingness to reach out and help someone in the community.
It is just like Sue to protect the seniors she served. I commend her for thinking of the safety of the frail seniors. It was 26 degrees last Tuesday and slippery by the snow pile (which was a prop as there was no snow)! Knowing Sue, I’m sure she was also thinking of the possibility of putting a “real” senior in harm’s way should someone recognize that person and go to their home to take advantage of them. I commend Sue and the staffer for putting safety first!
Anyone who attends PR events knows they are staged. Political press events are often staged; ribbon cuttings; ordinance /law signing ceremonies; to name a few. In politics campaign ads are staged with the perfect demographic representation in the mix. How is this any different?
Sad to see that politics takes precedence over a great victory for both the senior high students and the senior residents of the City of Cranston.
Sue Stenhouse Thanks Marie.