Woman’s Club preps for prom

Grace Johnson

Pastel-colored gowns, glittery makeup, four-inch heels and extensive jewelry are all part of a high school girl’s prom fantasy, and many spend hundreds of dollars making this dream a reality. For a portion of the senior class at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave., this wish would never come true without the help of the Woman’s Club of Evanston.

The club, which holds an annual program called Dreams Delivered to provide dresses and accessories to girls who may not be able to afford them, is asking Northwestern students to help them make that dream come true.

“We give these girls an opportunity to dress up and feel good and not have to feel a financial burden,” said Chava Wu, one of the committee co-chairs of the event and a Woman’s Club member.

Dreams Delivered is a relatively new project in its third year. Event planners work together with administrators at ETHS to identify girls who might need financial assistance to attend prom. These girls are then given an appointment time at a “boutique,” which is full of donated dresses, shoes, jewelry, handbags and makeup.

“We assign them a personal shopper and also maintain a certain level of privacy,” Wu said.

The social services department at ETHS also gets the word out to faculty members and sports coaches who may know a girl who is going through a difficult financial time, Wu said.

“I refer girls who are eligible for reduced lunch, but we also go by a case-by-case basis,” said Martha Zarate-Ortega, a senior class social worker. “One example may be a girl who was financially stable, but then lost her job.”

The dresses and accessories are all donated.

Northwestern students who wish to donate still have time to add to the Dreams Delivered collection. The Woman’s Club is accepting donations until Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Evanston Athletic Club, 1723 Benson Ave.

Medill freshman Olivia LaVecchia said she has already donated.

“I have these dresses lying around taking up space in my closet, so if somebody else can use them, that’s great,” said LaVecchia, who heard about the program through her sorority e-mail list.

Dreams Delivered has helped a significant number of students in the past, said Mary Collins, community service coordinator at ETHS.

“Last year 40 girls were assisted by this program,” she said. “Imagine you’re 18 years old, you’re trying to save for college, your family may not have very much money and you want an experience like every other high school student. Dreams Delivered gives them that.”

The Woman’s Club makes sure the girls feel special, Wu said. The boutique is decorated with flowers and candles, and music plays in the background. The club also met its goal of making sure each girl would have a variety of sizes and styles of dresses to choose from. Seamstresses and makeup demonstrations are also available at the boutique.

The girls who received dresses will be showing their appreciation in a new way this year – by volunteering in the community, Collins said.

“We’ve introduced a new element of giving back, so the girls benefitting from the dresses are asked to give back to the community by volunteering for a couple of hours,” Collins said. “The Woman’s Club is all about service, so this really reflects their values.”

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