It's About so much more than just the dress!
The Nonprofit Cinderella’s Attic assists young women to rise above economic challenges to attend their high school prom in style. What to wear to prom can feel like the most monumental fashion decision in a young woman's life, but for many young women in San Diego, a prom dress is a luxury they just can’t afford. One recent survey put the average price at $919 per person, with formalwear demanding a big chunk of the bill. It’s a plight that Poway resident Kerry Spark observed while teaching in public schools, first in Boston and then in San Diego. Year after year, she would encounter young women who wanted to attend prom but didn’t have the means to purchase a formal dress — let alone the fancy jewelry, dress shoes and clutch to complete their ensemble.
Wrap the plastic wrap around the cake and “Being a teacher in that environment, I felt compelled to do something for these young ladies,” Spark says. “No one should be priced out of prom.”
In 2006, Spark took action. She created a nonprofit organization, Cinderella’s Attic, to provide free prom dresses and accessories to women in high school. She gathered enough donated formalwear to organize a one-day Prom Boutique in a North Park dance studio and put the word out at high schools.
"About 25 women shopped for free dresses the first year," Spark recalls. But that was only the beginning. Today, the Prom Boutique draws more than 200 per year, with personal shoppers and stylists for all. The next shopping extravaganza is planned at the trendy House of Blues in downtown San Diego on March 31.
“The most magical moment is seeing the girls’ expression when they find that perfect dress,” Spark says. “They look and feel their best. Their spirits are lifted.” Spark raises money and awareness for Cinderella’s Attic through a fun “Throwback to Prom” fundraiser every fall that’s become a can’t-miss event for anyone who likes to dress up and have fun. Recent themes include Casino Royale and Night Under the Big Top.
“Everything we do is possible because of those who donate beautiful dresses, shoes, and accessories — as well as volunteer their time or provide financial support,” Spark, says, making special note of key support received from The Nemeth Foundation.
“Together, we’re building confidence, one girl at a time.” Nonprofit Cinderella's Attic's mission is to build confidence and self-esteem in young women by providing free formal dresses and accessories for special events that they might not otherwise have been able to experience. To learn more about Cinderella’s Attic, or to make a donation, go to cinderellasattic.org.
Photography by Pretty Branch Photography