Hancock Park NGA Members Dress Teens for Operation School Bell Prom Day

Hancock Park NGA members volunteer for Operation School Bell Prom Day: (l-r) NGA President, Beverly Brown, Donna Econn, HJ Paik, Liza Ameen, Susan Kneafsey and Janna Harris. Front row (l-r) Linda Levine and Alexandria Dionne.

Members of Hancock Park NGA joined forces with the Assistance League of Los Angeles to dress low-income and homeless LAUSD teens for their senior proms through Operation School Bell Prom Day, which provides dresses, shoes, accessories, make-up and hair styling to homeless and low-income LAUSD high school girls.

“Operation School Bell/Assistance League of Los Angeles hosted the most successful Prom Day ever, serving over 200 deserving LAUSD girls, with much help from the NGA of Hancock Park,” explained Windsor Square resident Kiel Fitzgerald, who serves with Shelagh Callahan as Co-presidents of the Anne Banning Auxiliary, of which OSB is part. “NGA members love this day of service and look forward to working one on one with the LAUSD girls and fulfilling their Prom Day dreams.

Teenage girls from 65 LAUSD schools were given the chance to step into a “pop-up” boutique last week at Emerson College LA’s campus on Sunset Blvd.  and choose their ideal prom outfit – complete with dress, handbag, shawl, jewelry and shoes – all at no cost. The girls also received custom fittings from volunteer tailors, guidance from stylist volunteers and celebrity “style influencers,” who assisted them in picking out the perfect “look” for their dream prom night. All participants also received “swag” bags from FabFitFun filled with Kylie Jenner Cosmetics, YNX Cosmetics, and healthy food gifts from McDonald’s. In addition, a celebratory PHOTO BOOTH experience was provided by McDonald’s, along with a tutorial from makeup expert Cyndee Black.

“Operation School Bell is one of the seven agencies NGA supports on an ongoing basis, but the annual Prom Day event, when NGA and OSB work together to dress girls for their senior prom, is one of the highlights of our year,” NGA President Beverly Brown and Brookside resident, told the Buzz. “The girls are so deserving, having managed to reach graduation, despite incredible adversity. It’s a privilege and a joy to help them select their dresses, shoes, bags and jewelry so they can shine on prom night. We have so much fun making them feel beautiful and proud and deserving of their achievements. We also gently nudge them to select shoes that are comfortable enough to dance in. I’m already looking forward to next year!”

The girls who participated in OSB Prom Day have maintained their grades while simultaneously managing difficult circumstances such as homelessness. Many of these students are living in shelters, motels, and even cars, due to circumstances outside their control. Some girls are living on their own while taking care of younger siblings, while others have been forced to flee dangerous home environments. Despite such obstacles, these young women are excelling in school – several near the head of their class – and all on track to graduate.

“Make Up artist Jeanine Canter shared that her Prom client confessed that she had never worn make up before and Jeanine assured her that it would be easy and natural to recreate,” Fitzgerald told the Buzz. “When the make up was done,  I overheard the teen gasp and say ‘I can’t breathe… I look pretty.’  We all choked up and carried on with tears in our eyes.”

“This year, approximately 18,000 homeless students have been identified in LAUSD. We diligently work to make certain our homeless students are provided the support and advocacy needed in order to remove barriers from their educational experience,” said Monica Santana, with the LAUSD’s Homeless Education Program. “As we collaborate with schools and community service agencies such as Assistance League of Los Angeles, we are able to maximize access to programs that promote academic success and achievement. Our goal is to create an academic experience for them equal to that of their regularly-housed peers. OSB Prom is one of our District’s favorite events!”

Assistance League of Los Angeles’ Operation School Bell program annually provides new school clothes, play clothes, shoes, backpacks, hygiene products, books and school supplies to more than 6,500 underserved and at-risk LAUSD schoolchildren grades K-5. By delivering these resources to the city’s most vulnerable children, OSB improves school attendance, promotes learning and offers students a greater chance to succeed. The League, in 2019 marking their 100th year serving the community, also provides live theatre experiences to LAUSD children, operates a top-notch pre-school in Hollywood for low-income families, and provides thousands of LA children in the foster system with clothes and other needed items. Across their programs, the League will directly support nearly 22,000 LAUSD children in 2019.

“The League’s Operation School Bell program provides underserved children with basic needs such as new school clothing and supplies throughout the year,” said Melanie Merians, Assistance League of Los Angeles CEO. “With OSB Prom Day, the League proudly acknowledges young women who have maintained a strong academic standing under extremely adverse circumstances, stayed in school, and are poised to graduate and begin a new chapter in their lives.”

 

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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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