KATONAH, N.Y. –- Tatiana Staley tried on prom dresses Tuesday at the Community Center of Northern Westchester, which makes going to prom a possibility for those who may not otherwise be able to afford it.
Staley, a senior at Fox Lane High School, found two dresses last year for her junior prom, along with a “pretty pearl necklace.” High school girls can also find shoes and pocket books, while boys can find tuxedos.
The 17-year-old said she thought the Community Center volunteers would be judgmental when she first went to pick out the dresses, but, “It was the opposite.”
“I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed about that you can’t afford your own dress,” she said, adding that the women who helped her were very nice. “I’ve recommended it to a few of my friends this year.”
Staley’s mother, Tanya, said the service they received was better than any department store.
This is the sixth year that the Community Center of Northern Westchester offers prom dresses to students, and the fourth year they have held its dress selection party at the Elephant’s Trunk in Mount Kisco.
The Community Center has been giving out gently-used clothing to its clients for free for 22 years and its Executive Director Sherry Wolf said the prom dress giveaway is an off-shoot of that.
Wolf, who called Staley a very special young lady, said they try to offer a one-on-one experience to the girls that they offer prom dresses. They even offer free alterations on the dresses, which surprised Staley’s mother.
Volunteers at the Community Center brought dresses that would fit the 6-foot tall Staley, as well as shoes, pocket books and jewelry Tuesday.
“It seems like such an easy thing to do because people donate lovely things and to match them with someone who could use them for something special like this is just the icing on the cake,” Wolf said.
The Community Center also has a food pantry and offers programs and other resources to 37 northern Westchseter communities. It served more than 1,800 families in 2013, 10 times the number who came to the center for help when it opened in 1992.