Prom Dream Team makes local proms affordable

July 9, 2014   ·   0 Comments

The Prom has been an important part of a student’s high school career for a long time, some say in the United States dating back as far as the late 1800’s. It’s that one chance to celebrate the four years you’ve made it through, and breathe a sigh of relief that you are graduating, not just from high school, but from the teen years into the next chapter as a young adult.

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. That’s where the 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 just over a year to so much more.

“There was a young lady I knew who was living in the local shelter and couldn’t go to prom last year,” 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. When prom season began this year, someone approached Ms. Cauley to find out if she was going to be doing it 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.”

From there, the Prom Dream was born. The purpose was to have each of the two Orangeville secondary schools to 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.

While Westside SS provided the name of their selected student, a grade 12 girl named Katrina Grist, the ODSS student, Tashia Mcpherson, was picked through a nomination by a member of the public.

“Someone approached me on Facebook after hearing about the project and suggested Tashia would be an ideal candidate,” said Ms. Cauley. “When I presented the name to the school, they were completely on board and said that no-one could top her.”

Both girls came from their own, difficult situations. Just over a year ago, Ms. Mcpherson lost her mother to cancer, the repercussions of which left her struggling in school. With her father left to raise herself and her younger sister, prom wasn’t really an option.

“I wouldn’t have been able to go to prom if it wasn’t for Melissa and the Prom Dream Team,” said Ms. McPherson. “I felt really proud and excited when I was told someone wanted to provide it for me. It’s such a big part of graduation, and now I wasn’t going to have to miss it.”

Ms. Grist’s family also faces struggles with finances. After the loss of her parents, she and her younger brother moved in with her grandmother, who has helped to raise them.

“We have expenses other than prom to take care of, so I wasn’t really going to even look at going,” she said. “I was really confused when they first approached me, because I didn’t know what it was about. Once I realized, I was incredibly grateful for everything that Melissa had done and was going to do.”

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.

“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.”

Once the girls were ready for prom, Ms. Cauley also took them to The Land of the Glass Slipper, where a photographer waited to take pictures of them all done up for their special day.

“It was so incredible,” said Ms. McPherson. “They all made me feel very special and like I was important. Melissa was so incredible and I think of her as a good friend of mine now.”

Ms Grist echoed the thoughts, adding that it was an experience she was really grateful that she didn’t have to miss.

“I think it’s pretty awesome that people in our community can come together and do something like this,” she said. “Being pampered like this was a first-time experience for me, and it was pretty cool. I had a lot of fun and everyone was just so into helping out.”

The success of this year’s ‘Prom Dream’ event as well as the participation from the community has left Ms. Cauley with big dreams for the future of the Prom Dream Team. Next year, the program will hopefully grow to include other high schools in the area, and maybe from there into other towns. There is also talk of selecting a boy from each of the schools as well.

“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 Orangeville. 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:

Sherry’s Bridal, Mairi MacRae – At Home Realty Inc., Margaret Stewart-Hayward, TWells Photography, Tabitha Irwin – Massage Therapist, Madelaine McGriffin, Nadia Dislets, Michael Hinbest, Sherri Picard – Tan on the Run, Maria McGugan, Dr. Nails Acrylic Nails, Parsons Florist, The Land of the Glass Slipper, The Body Bar, Lil Monkey’s Consignment and The Budget Friendly Bridal Show.

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