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Prom Dream Team makes dreams come true

July 8, 2015   ·   0 Comments

PromDream1For as long as they have existed, proms and graduation have become a staple part of a student’s school experiences. The events, which date as far back as the late 1800s, provide that one special opportunity to celebrate your achievements, and the fact that your time at that school is coming to an end. It’s a chance to take a deep breath and sigh with relief as you acknowledge that you are ‘outta there’, moving on with the next stage in your life.

While proms in Canada tend to be less extravagant and overwhelming than the ones our American neighbours host, they are still a pricey event for any teenager. For those who cannot afford to partake, it can be quite disheartening. In more recent years, we’ve also seen Grade 8 graduations become extravagant, with many students purchasing dresses and suits as expensive as your average Prom Dress. To a family struggling to make ends meet, this can become a difficult thing to ensure that your daughter feels as special as the girls whose parents can afford more.

That’s where Orangeville’s Prom Dream Team comes in. It started as nothing more than a generous gesture by Melissa Cauley from the Budget Friendly Bridal show, but has grown in two years to so much more.

“There was a young lady I knew who was living in the local shelter and couldn’t go to [her] prom,” said Ms. Cauley. “I wanted to help her out because I know what a huge milestone it is. I posted on Facebook that I was looking for help with a dress, and that’s what got the ball rolling.”

Someone offered to purchase the dress for the girl from Noah Brown Bridal, and Ms. Cauley was able to find help with hair, makeup and everything that is a part of going to prom.

Last year, as it was rolling up to Prom time, several members of the community messaged Ms. Cauley, asking if she was doing the Prom Dream again.

“I was a little confused when they asked if I was going to do the Prom Dream again, because I didn’t understand what they meant,” explained Ms. Cauley. “Then I realized they were talking about the girl from the shelter, and I thought maybe this was something worth pursuing.”

PromDream3From there, the Prom Dream was born. The goal was to have each of the two Orangeville secondary schools select a girl who was in good academic standing, with strong attendance but may be struggling financially or in other ways. After contacting Westside and Orangeville District secondary schools, Ms. Cauley took to Facebook to spread the word and get help from the community.

“I didn’t know where to start and I didn’t know anyone who needed help, so I approached each of the school’s and asked if they had anyone in mind who could really benefit from having their prom ‘dream’ provided for them,” said Ms. Cauley.

After last year’s success, the concept grew, leading Ms. Cauley to reach out to local public schools as well, in order to help Grade 8 grads that might be struggling to afford graduation. Dress donations began to roll in, and soon, Ms. Cauley was able to extend the program to assist not just the girls from each school, but a number of other girls in the area as well, who could not afford dresses.

“Overall, we helped 14 girls from the Orangeville and surrounding areas,” said Ms. Cauley. “We had three Prom students who received the head-to-toe treatments and some Grade 8 grads who received dresses, hair and makeup services.”

The experience for the girls was more than just going to prom. Along with picking out their prom dresses and having the costs covered, members of the community donated everything necessary to pamper the girls for their big day. From manicures and massages, to hair, makeup, gift baskets and corsages, everything was covered, including the tickets which were provided by the schools.

The criteria for the nominated students is that they must be struggling financially, but have a strong academic record. While that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to have high grades, it does mean the effort and attendance have to be there.

“We wanted to do something extra special for these girls, and we want it to be something we can continue doing,” said Ms. Cauley. “It’s kind of a pay-it-forward type thing. We just want to help out the community and be there to do something. We want the girls to know that someone out there is thinking about them and is proud of how well they’re doing despite their difficult situations.”

She added that it is also about building their self-esteem and giving them that ‘something good in life’.

“Some of the girls come from difficult situations, and we recognize that when life keeps beating on you, it can be hard to feel like you can win at anything in life,” said Ms. Cauley. “When we spend time with these girls, we want them to feel like they’ve won for something in life, and understand that there are people out there willing to invest in them.”

This year, the program’s success has left Ms. Cauley excited about what the future holds for the program. The amount it grew from last year, to this, has shown that not only is there a need, but there are a number of people who recognize that need and want to help out.

“I would love to be able to expand this outside of the Orangeville area and have a team in each town that could take care of the kids,” said Ms. Cauley. “That’s why I called it the Prom Dream Team. I would love to see it grow into the states even, and be able to help students across North America be able to go to prom.”

Despite the hard work Ms. Cauley has put into the Prom Dream Team, she is adamant that it’s not she alone who deserves the credit, but the local businesses and people who have helped out.

“Without the community, this really wouldn’t be possible,” she said. “Everyone keeps saying I’m doing a great job, but it’s not me. Without the local businesses and members of the community who have stepped up to help, there would be no Prom Dream Team.”

The Prom Dream Team would like to thank the following people and businesses for their help with giving the two students the prom of their dreams:

PromDream2Black Birch Restaurant, Gemini Salon, Marlin Travel, Onyx Hair & Nail Salon, Younique Esthetics, Jody’s Flair for Hair, Rapido Burrito, RaDeana Montgomery, Ashley Downie, Walking on Sunshine, Shoppers Drugmart, and the many, many people who donated dresses, shoes and jewelry for the girls.

         

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