Immigrants And Refugees

Boys and Girls Prepared for that Special Prom with Help of Catholic Charities

Balloons readied to celebrate the giveaway. Credit: Catholic Charities New York

Prom is a tradition based on enjoying the last few months in high school while approaching graduation. Finding the perfect dress or suit isn’t easy.

April 22nd was a glamorous afternoon to remember at Catholic Charities Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center in Washington Heights. Over a hundred young people came together to take part in the 17th Annual Prom Clothing Giveaway.

Girls ranging from 10 to 20 years old, besides prom dresses, also had access to handbags and makeup. For 20-year-old Jolie Camara, it meant the world. “It’s like a wedding day, where people are happy but the only difference is they’re not getting married,” she said.

Girls tried on dresses before finding the perfect prom ensemble, which can cost up to $1,500 for dresses, tickets, and driving. Prom dresses alone can start at $325. At the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center, boys and girls spent three hours looking for that special fit, all the while not having to worry about the cost.

It’s like a wedding day, where people are happy but the only difference is they’re not getting married

The event, besides the wardrobe fittings, also included balloons, music, and photo opportunities not only for the high school students but also for the volunteers who gave their time in support of the event.

Ashley Matos, an intern and student at Lehman College, volunteered to provide a path for girls and boys who struggle with prom costs. “Prom day is very special. They want to take their time with the perfect dress, shoes, and other accessories,” said Ashley.

The event presented 350 dresses, with options from small, medium, large, and plus size, in a variety of colors such as purple, green, blue, and peach. Each participant was given the choice to get two dresses if they couldn’t decide which one they liked better.

“Having the ability to give back to others and the community is a great opportunity,” said Steven Fernandez, a junior at The City College of New York and a Strategic Development Intern at Catholic Charities.

Aramafoulaye Dioby, 20, immigrated from Mali and has been living in New York City for four years. She was getting ready to take part in the American tradition after receiving an outfit. “I’m excited for the prom,” she said.