Krystal Hamilton, a 34-year-old waitress, mother of five and recovering heroin addict, probably never imagined that she'd be walking down a catwalk in a floor-length Oscar de la Renta gown and towering heels. Hamilton is just one of the residents of Grace Centers of Hope, the largest homeless shelter in the Midwest, which houses children, women suffering from abuse, individuals challenged with mental illness and those whose loved ones have been destroyed by addiction. On one Saturday each May, the residents leave their worries behind and enter a fantasy world created by Mary Alice Stephenson and Glam4Good, the non-profit foundation she created.
Stephenson, a New York-based style and beauty expert, brand ambassador and the former fashion director of Harper's Bazaar, heads to Pontiac, MI, each May to stage a fashion show as part of a charity luncheon whose proceeds aid Grace Centers of Hope. This year, Stephenson and her Glam4Good team arrived in Michigan with just 48 hours to create a world-renowned fashion show to raise money and awareness, and empower the women from the shelter who walk in the show.
The gowns are glitzy -- designers like Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Prabal Gurung, Bibhu Mohapatra and Marchesa donate their wares. Shoes from Jimmy Choo, Brian Atwood and Alejandro Ingelmo and jewelry from designers Miriam Haskell, Kara Ross, Alexis Bittar and Swarovski complete the runway-ready outfits. The women receive full hair and makeup to prepare for the catwalk.
The experience is life-changing for the participants: As Krystal told The Detroit Free Press, “Walking down a runway with those gorgeous dresses, the whole situation made you feel comfortable in your own skin.”
Other participants echoed Hamilton's sentiments, telling Stephenson that "Today was the first time I felt beautiful in my life."
The transformations that Stephenson creates for the residents of Grace Centers of Hope give the women priceless memories and empowers them as the new women that they have become. Their self-confidence gets a much-needed boost and the experience strengthens the bonds between these women.
Check out Mary Alice and her team as they Glam4Good with the Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac, MI.
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