Project Cinderella to help youth attend prom in style

Project Cinderella helps youth from foster care attend prom in style

Youth to don dresses and formalwear donated by community

Photo: Last year’s collection of donated dresses & accessories. BCFS calls on the community to donate to this year’s stock

TYLER, TX –Francine and Shelby, two young women from foster care, reminisce fondly about the days leading up to prom last year, and how Project Cinderella gave them an unforgettable experience. When they came to pick out their prom dresses from BCFS Health and Human Services, the girls moved excitedly through the garment racks, running their hands across all the glittery ball gowns and elegant dresses, searching for the perfect one.

“I can choose any dress?” asked Shelby. “This is so amazing and fantastic – and fun! I love BCFS!”  Francine, too, was ecstatic about her prom look. “I didn’t think I could look this beautiful for a prom I didn’t think I was going to have,” she said.

Project Cinderella is an initiative of BCFS Health and Human Services that helps youth from foster care attend prom in style by providing new or gently used formal attire for the young men and women, as well as professional hair and makeup sessions for the ladies. Every year, people from across Tyler donate gently used dresses, shoes, jewelry, and tuxedos, or make a monetary contribution so a student can shop for their own prom attire.

Donations are currently being accepted and can be dropped off at the BCFS Health and Human Services Transition Center at 1012 Meadow Lane in Tyler, or at the Administrative Offices of Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) at 302 E. Reich Road. To make a donation online, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/Tyler.

In Tyler, most youth in foster care (like Francine and Shelby) are in nontraditional environments like group homes, charter schools, or GED programs where prom isn’t typically on the agenda. So every spring, BCFS hosts a prom for youth from foster care, in partnership with DFPS, so these young men and women don’t miss out on the “exciting, coming-of-age, American tradition of prom,” according to BCFS Director Carla McCalope.

“Project Cinderella and the prom event make a significant impact on the way our youth feel about themselves,” says McCalope. “Most of them have experienced abuse or neglect in the past, so we take every opportunity to show them they are loved, and boost their self-confidence. The community has stepped in to help our youth the past four years, and we hope this will be our biggest year yet!”

BCFS Health and Human Services helps Tyler youth from the foster care system, as well as other young adults facing homelessness, poverty, and other challenges. The center is a “one-stop shop” that provides counseling, case management, and assistance with education, employment, housing location and medical care.

For more information or to make a monetary donation to Project Cinderella, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Tyler or call (903) 526-0882.

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BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.