The Children’s Justice Center is one of our 2016 Clark Realty Community Fund grantees. With two days remaining in fundraising for this year’s CRCCF campaign, we’re pleased to bring you this story of outreach to the Big Island community and the role two of our Clark Realty agents played in helping nearly 300 high school girls prepare for prom this year.
“You and I are going to be the face of the Prom Dress Drive for the Children’s Justice Center! Oh, and can you get Cafe Pesto to help us too?”
This was the introduction I had from my partner, Julie Cox, to the Children’s Justice Center’s Prom Dress Drive.
With two years in real estate to my 25, Julie is the “energy” of our team of “Energy & Experience.” Like many Realtors, she is committed to contributing to the community to which she belongs. I was aware that she is involved with the Boy’s & Girl’s Club as well as activities through her church. However, I did not realize she is also on the board of the Children’s Justice Center.
The focus of the Children’s Justice Center is to offer support to children who have become involved with the justice system. That support can take many forms. In the case of the Prom Dress Drive, the plan was to have members of the Hilo community step up and donate prom dresses and accessories which would be made available to girls in the foster care system–girls who might otherwise not have the possibility of acquiring a dress for their prom.
It was inspiring to watch Julie take the lead on this project. From a challenge to her friends in Texas to posters, radio spots and public service announcements, she blanketed the community with requests for dress donations. Word was spread through the Realtor community and through the Children’s Justice community and through Julie’s church. The Hilo and Waiakea High School AVID girls helped with a challenge to the team in Ft. Worth and Wave Radio ran two weeks of PSA’s.
Along the way, we received calls from women in tears to thanking us for what Julie started. Some of these calls came from women who had been raised in the foster care system and had never been able to attend a prom because they didn’t have a dress! Other people were moved by the message of the drive and stopped to leave dresses at the Clark Realty office because they couldn’t make the scheduled drop off dates, Julie’s desk was surrounded by hanging dresses and bags of dresses. The Naniloa Hotel /Double Tree, agreed to be a drop-off point over the course of several days for us to receive dresses.
Thanks to Cafe Pesto Hilo Bay, especially my son (the chef) and Mr. Palmer (the owner), we were offering anyone who dropped off their dresses on the first day a coupon for $2 off a pizza. Right on, time cars started pulling into the parking lot. Drivers would get out, open up their trunks and pull out bags of dresses. This went on for 2 hours and, by the end, we had over 150 dresses plus accessories. The total donated over the course of the event was about 483 dresses! The Ft. Worth team received 326 donations. Designs By Shirley, a wedding and prom dress shop donated over 100 dresses! All of this reaffirmed our belief in the spirt of Aloha which is alive and well on the Big Island.
The dresses were distributed to girls identified by their school counselors over the course of a month. We started in Hilo and then took the show on the road to Na’alehu and Pahoa. In Na’alehu, we set up at the Community Center on a Saturday in conjunction with a community event. Throughout the morning, girls stopped in to pick a dress. One of the girls said she had never worn a dress in her life and a group of 3 were so thrilled at how they looked they wanted to wear them when they left.
Several people were involved for the whole distribution process while some of us for only a few days. My daughter-in-law, Myra, brought along my twin 8-year-old granddaughters. They jumped right in and helped the girls find accessories to coordinate with their dresses and, at the end, helped us sort dresses into categories and sizes. They had seen their older sister and friends plan their prom attire with parents who would help them buy a dress. This experience helped them learn that not everyone is as fortunate as their older sister.
At the end of the distribution period, we had given out 300 dresses and beat out the competition with the Texas group by 100 plus dresses. All in all a successful event which set a new bar for how the Children’s Justice Center can serve teens.
Thank you, Julie, for being my partner as well as an inspiration for how we can serve our community!