Prom is a rite of passage for teenage girls across the country. Sadly, there are some that might not be able to experience it because of financial hardship. Operation Prom seeks to change that issue. Operation Prom was founded in 2005 by Noel D’Allaco in New York. The organization is now a national one with several chapters across the country.
When Keren Charles works with teenage girls in Atlanta as part of her job at Operation Prom, she relies on her upbeat, positive nature and styling expertise to get her through an occasional tough appointment.
“I admit there are some who are very specific and will not try anything other than what they want,” Charles says, “Those I really have to work harder with and I’ll try and find something to please them.”
But Charles says many of the girls that come to her are so excited to just get a prom dress that they put away any preconceived notions.
“The majority of my young ladies that come in are open. They trust me, they trust my opinion and they’re able to find something that they really like.”
As was the case with 19-year-old high school student Zyna Williams, who came to Charles to find a dress a week before her prom.
Zyna is getting her dress for free because of the work of Operation Prom, a nonprofit organization that helps teens in financial need, or who are sick or disabled, get formal wear for no cost.
After selecting a few bright colors from her collection in her equally brightly colored private studio, Charles gently encourages Zyna to try on strapless dresses, a style she wouldn’t normally choose.
“Again I always advise the young ladies that come in just to try on a dress because some things don’t have great hanger appeal,” Charles tells Zyna, “but once you put it on you will probably fall in love with it, so let’s just try.”
Zyna ended up choosing a short, white, strapless dress that day to attend the Alpharetta High School prom, with Charles throwing in accessories and a free hair and makeup session.
To donate a dress or find a chapter near you, please click here.
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