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“Remember Prom” Aims to Create Memories

May 5, 2010

by Caitlin Farrell

ALBANY NY – Prom is part of the high school experience, but it has become so expensive that only those with money can afford to go. Between the dress, limo, hair, make-up and tickets, the event is out of reach for some juniors and seniors. One local college student who grew up in the Pine Hills and graduated from Albany High School has made it her personal mission to help.

A new organization named “Remember Prom” is dedicated to helping underprivileged youths have the experience of prom. This campaign was put together by Alexandria Myers, a senior at The College of Saint Rose. The effort is only a few months old, but the word has spread quickly.

Remember Prom’s goal is to send as many students in the Albany and tri-city area to their proms who might not have had the opportunity before. Donations can be made at the Saint Rose Interfaith Sanctuary and at Some Girls, a boutique on 2nd Street in Troy. With any donation made to Some Girls contributors receive a 40% discount off of any single item. Remember Prom is taking any items that are possibly used for a prom: dresses, men’s slacks, ties and coats, shoes, and accessories.

Myers, a social work major, interned last year at Equinox’s youth outreach program, on Central Avenue near Henry Johnson Boulevard in Albany

“We try to create a safe place to take a break,” said Patricia Tullgren, director of development and community relations at Equinox, Inc.

Each day about 75 students go to Equinox after school. Their ages range from 13 to 22, and they come and play videos games, make music, do trust and team building exercises and have dinner. For some kids this will be the only real meal they have all day.

While volunteering at the program Myers conducted “life space interviews.” She got to know the kids that and helped do trust and challenge activities to help teach the children life skills like to trust and to ask for help.

When cleaning out her closet she found her old prom dresses and immediately called to ask Equinox whether they might know girls who had a need for the dresses. Last year, the staff at Equinox donated $1000 out of pocket to help some of the kids in their program to attend prom. Because Equinox doesn’t have the staff to keep up with a clothing drive they asked Myers to run the drive, and they offered to store the donations she receives.

Equinox has a partnership with Great Finds, a not-for-profit thrift store in Albany, here they can house any clothing donations they get year round said Lea Bosquez, Development Coordinator at Equinox. They give those who need clothes a voucher to go shop there, to give them a sense of dignity. All excess prom donations ultimately end up here.

After Myers was told she was in charge of the drive she presented the idea to the Women’s Initiative Club at Saint Rose who gladly helped her take it on. Because she was really the only one running this there were a lot of phone calls and work that Myers had to do.

“I didn’t realize how much work it would be running a mini organization,” said Myers.

Because she grew up and currently lives in the Pine Hills neighborhood, Myers wants to incorporate the community of Albany as a whole. She’s been asking for local business to donate make-up, hair appointments, dry cleaning, and flowers. Circles and Mary K have each already donated make up. Also Taysha Florist on Henry Johnson Boulevard is donating corsages and boutonnieres. So far Remember Prom has received 30 dresses and is hoping to get a lot more, including a lot more men’s clothing.

The prime beneficiary of this drive will be the high school juniors and seniors at Equinox, most of whom go to Albany High. The senior prom there is May 15th and the junior prom is on June 5th. After giving to the students at Equinox, Myers plans on reaching out to Albany High for students who aren’t a part of Equinox and then if she still has excess trying to move onto underprivileged in the tri-city area.

Another goal Myers has for the project is to create a connection with Equinox’s youth

(Caitlin Farrell)

outreach program and Saint Rose. She wants them to know that there is another safe place in Albany for them to come. She also hopes that Remember Prom will happen year after year and continue to grow.

On April 30th Equinox is going to set up a “boutique” in its basement with racks donated by Macy’s. Then students in the outreach program will “shop” for what they want to wear. There are also fundraisers in the works with Lark Tavern, hopefully to help this year and to put some money away for next year, in the hopes of making prom possible for as many high school students as possible.

“It’s like being Cinderella and your stuff doesn’t turn into mice and pumpkins at the end of the night,” said Bosquez. -30-


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