Teen Girls and Spring = PROM.
Dress shopping, shoe shopping, up-do appointments, mani-pedi's, the perfect make-up and accessories = $$$$$$.
It's every girl's dream to look beautiful on that day and most parents are willing to spend hundreds of dollars to make their daughters prom experience a memorable one. But what about the thousands of teen girls whose parents don't have the dollars signs to afford those luxuries, but still want their daughters to feel like the perfect prom queen that day?
Last weekend, it was Dozen Divas to the rescue.
Prom Boutiques are a popular way to give back but are mostly organized by nonprofits and led by adults. This past Sunday, we were awestruck and speechless when we walked into the Prom Boutique that PGOM Dozen Divas organized. The Dozen Divas are teen girls themselves, ranging in age from 16-17, who certainly proved they care equally about their peers as they do about themselves. Their Prom Boutique was truly every girl's fantasy -- 217 stunning brand new and gently used prom dresses. ALL FREE.
In these trying economic times, paying the mortgage and the car payment are priority. Justine DeRosa and PJ Bracciodieta, two high school juniors clearly understood that everyone deserves to look beautiful at their prom, regardless of their financial situation and did something about it. Their plan: to set up a beautiful boutique where teens could shop for their dream dress for FREE. On a zero budget, Justine and PJ went to work. They secured an event space generously donated by the Holiday Inn Express in Stony Brook. With the help of the press, and lots of calls to local schools, Dozen Divas spread the word and invited lots of girls to come. PJ and Justine wrote hundreds of letters to local retail stores, handed out fliers and received 217 dresses by the day of their event. To make the guests feel even more special, they were able to raffle off free facials and haircut certificates, also donated by a local spa.
When we arrived at the event, it was hard to hold back the emotion. Girls traveled from all over Long Island and some even had to take several buses just to get there. They had guests coming from as far as Queens and upstate New York. We shared lots of tears and smiles that day as we soaked up the glee from the girls leaving with their dream dresses one by one.
"It made me so exhilarated to see the smiles on girls faces as they entered our boutique. Just to think that these girls were smiling because of mine and Justine's hard work. Watching girls walk into our boutique with smiles that went from ear to ear made me realize that I had done the best I could have done" said Bracciodieta of St. James, N.Y.
"A mother came up to me and actually said, once I saw your email this morning my heart just dropped. It saved me! I want my daughter to be happy. Thank you so much." Said Derosa also from St. James N.Y. "What I got out of the experience was learning to really appreciate what I have, and know that not every girl is able to afford a beautiful prom dress. The fact we were able to give them one and make them happy really touched me"
Being a teenage girl these days is not all about "me" as proven by PGOM Dozen Divas with Justine and PJ in the lead. It's clear that you don't have to be an adult, a nonprofit or have prior experience in planning events. All you need is the undeniable intention and desire to make a difference, and the vision to see it through!