31 Mar 2011
- Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
Have you ever stopped and told someone else they matter? Whether it is because they helped you while you were on the side of the road or because they speak to you every morning as you cross paths on your way to work, or because they taught you something that you may never have otherwise learned? If you haven’t done so, take the time out of your schedule today and tell someone they matter to you, because those words carry a lot of weight and can mean the world to someone else.
A year ago I decided to not only tell but to show a group of young women, whose odds had built up against them, that they mattered to me, to their schools, and to this community.
In the fall of 2009, I felt overwhelmed by the need to serve others around me in some way. An email went out to invite speakers to come and talk to the Northside High School young women, because the school was having some behavioral and social issues with their female students. Although I was not able to attend, I followed up with the principal to see how often an event or program such as this took place and he informed that it was a onetime event.
I thought about it some more and said this is the outlet I have been seeking, and I decided to develop a proposal to offer a program called Girl Talk to Northside High. I realized that these young women needed consistency and they yearned for attention and love, and through Girl Talk I wanted to offer them that by introducing them to young women who looked like them, who came from their circumstances, and who succeeded despite all the odds. I also wanted to express to these young women that no matter their situation, they were important, they were valued and that they mattered.
Many ask why Northside or if I went to the high school Although I never attended, I am an indirect product of Northside because both of my parents attended the school and met each there. Over this last year, I have learned a great deal about myself, my passions in life and about these young women. One important thing I can take away from this experience is telling people they matter and that they can always achieve more than their current situation.
When prom time rolled around, the girls were abuzz trying to see who they were going to take as dates for prom or what dress they were going to wear. Unbeknownst to most, the principal financially assisted some of the young women to allow them to partake in the prom festivities. I was so moved by his generosity and commitment to his students that I too wanted to help the following year and make prom a reality for all those who wanted to participate. I shared the idea of a dress drive with a few close friends and they encouraged me to pursue the idea. I wanted to make sure I was not reinventing the wheel, so I researched online to see if there was a large-scaled event here in Memphis. When I didn’t find the program, I decided to create one for the teens of our city.
After researching and the conceptualization of the program, the women of Girl Talk Memphis and Smitten Events realized there was a need to make prom a reality for financially limited teenage girls here in Memphis. We each came together and teamed up to create Memphis Prom Closet, a program that provides prom dresses, free of charge, to girls who would have not otherwise had the opportunity to participate in their prom activities. My initial thought was to serve everyone and to make the event open to all those who needed a dress in Memphis (I think BIG!), but after consulting with a few voices of reason, the suggestion was made to host the event this year for a school where we had a prior relationship. This year, Memphis Prom Closet chose to donate proceeds to Northside High School, providing more than 125 dresses to junior and senior young women.
For high school teens, senior prom is one of the most memorable experiences of their high school life. Although the prom is common in schools all over the country, the reality is that not every young girl can afford to attend. Memphis Prom Closet will offer financially limited girls of Memphis the chance to experience one of the most unforgettable moments of high school, while showing them that they matter and that people care about them! Memphis Prom Closet will be an annual dress drive and hopes to grow more and more with each year!