TIMES Prom Project

High school student who recieved donated dress. Photo courtesy of Prom Project

Prom Project helps alleviate the financial burden of an important high school event.

Think back to your senior year, the excitement and anticipation of graduation is palpable by spring. Nearing the end of a high school everyone makes plans for what’s next, but first comes prom. Senior prom is touted as a rite of passage. Celebrating the culmination of the end and many years of public education with a grand dance party. Yet between tickets, clothes, photos, and a limo how can a family living paycheck to paycheck afford such an extravagant expense?

The nonprofit organization Prom Project founded by Jaehee Kim, Angie Kim, and Diane Masseth-Jones in 2007, has a solution. The organization donates hundreds of free prom dresses, shoes, accessories, and more to low income high school seniors in north Orange County each year. “I got to wear these gorgeous gowns and feel pretty in them. I hope two lucky girls get to feel as special as I did wearing them,” says Emily  , who donated some of her dresses to Prom Project.

“While money is a huge issue, a project is nothing without people being actually there and helping,” says Barbara Brooks, a new volunteer to Prom Project who collects dresses. Brooks also emphasizes the need for dresses in plus sizes, makeup artists, and tailors.

Boutique Day, which takes place March 19 at the United Methodist Church of Fullerton, is the annual event where about 200 young women can choose a dress, shoes, and accessories, as well as makeup and hair advice. By giving these young women a day of beauty, it “makes them feel like a princess” says Masseth-Jones.

Gowns are also given to the wives of enlisted men at the Camp Pendleton military base. Last year Prom Project donated over 500 gowns for the annual black tie, formal dance in October and received a certification of commendation.

While the surplus of dresses not up to Prom Project’s standards are shredded and recycled, “shoes, lightly worn, are much needed,” says Masseth-Jones.

Masseth-Jones explains that YWCA empowers women, by providing positive experiences. Prom Project and the YWCA believes that by giving these young women the opportunity to celebrate the completion of their high school career in style is thereby “promoting self-confidence and individual beauty” according to Masseth-Jones.