This wonderful post was written by Dawn Wells Wright and these beautiful photos were taken by Nikole Lim!
â€œThirty thousand people in Pasadena are making $15,000 or less a year,â€ explained Pat Riley, Director of Social Services for The Salvation Army in Pasadena. People donâ€™t expect that in the City of Roses.â€
Knowing this time-honored high school tradition comes with a high price tag these days â€“ from $100 admission tickets to dresses to a boutonniere for their date â€“ the staff at The Salvation Army in Pasadena teamed up with the local school district and area businesses to get local low-income and foster teens ready for the big day.
The excited young ladies had a chance to sift through hundreds of new and gently-worn prom dress and select the perfect dress for them.
Brenda Garcia, a senior at Blair High School, took two hours to choose her perfect dress, vacillating between a youthful peach taffeta dress, and a more sophisticated deep amethyst-colored gown, ultimately going with the latter.
After her mother died when Brenda was just seven, she entered a loving foster home. Later, her father fought for custody and won, but struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and was in no place to care for her and her siblings. They ultimately ended up on the streets but Brenda bravely fought to get back into foster care and won. That day she said to herself, â€œThis is the beginning of a new life.â€
Since then, she has taken advantage of every opportunity sheâ€™s been given to build a future for herself. Brenda will attend a local community college next year and plans to study criminology.
Jeanette Rico – pictured above – is a senior at John Muir High School. Beaming in her new bright purple prom dress, she said, â€œI think today is a great opportunity for the girls in Pasadena. Without todayâ€™s event I would have to ask for money from my mom and dad, and that would have been a problem. They canâ€™t always provide.â€
Last summer she worked hard to save $1,000 to help off-set senior-expenses. Between these savings and the donated dress, sheâ€™ll make it to her senior prom and major in business one day too.
With sparkly dresses in tow, all the teens made their way to a luncheon that featured track Olympic Gold Medalist Inger Miller who spoke from the heart about overcoming difficult circumstances in life. The special teens left the event more confident, encouraged and hopeful â€“ not just about prom, but their futures as well.
The Salvation Army in Pasadena offers comprehensive services to the community, including food and clothing to the homeless, groceries for families in need, after school youth programs, and church services on Sunday mornings. For more information, contact Pat Riley via email here or by phone at (626) 773-4404.