In hundreds of closets across the Capital Region, they hang, gathering dust. Their owners know they’ll probably never have an occasion to wear them again, but they can’t seem to part with them.
These are old prom dresses. Yes, prom, that high school rite of passage that girls spend weeks preparing for, shopping for just the right gown in the perfect color, with the appropriate number of ruffles and bows — or not. After the dancing is over, these gowns are often relegated to the back of the closet, where they hang for years — even decades.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Hibernian Hall, 1748 State St., Schenectady
HOW MUCH: $40
MORE INFO: www.mompromzontaschenectady.com, www.saratogamomprom.com, www.vethelpny.org/vet-help/the-guardian-house/
This weekend, one local organization is offering women an opportunity to take out those old prom gowns, bridesmaids dresses and mother-of-the-bride dresses, dust them off, put them on and dance the night way once again, all for a good cause.
The Zonta Club of Schenectady, which has been serving the women of Schenectady for the past 86 years, is hosting its second annual Mom Prom on Friday to raise money for The Guardian House of Saratoga, which provides housing for 11 homeless female veterans.
The Mom Prom idea started in 2006 with Betsy Crapps of Canton, Mich., after she wore an old prom gown her mother had dug out of the attic to a friend’s Oscar party. It inspired her friends to dress up in their old gowns and go out, and then the idea came to host a Mom Prom and raise money for charity at the same time.
The idea caught the media’s attention, and soon Crapps found herself featured in print and broadcast media outlets in 77 countries. Now, women from around the country are digging out their old prom dresses — or heading to their local consignment shops or thrift stores — and raising money for a variety of causes at this fun girls’ night out. Last year, there were more than 40 Mom Proms nationwide, all raising funds for different causes in their own communities. Zonta’s Mom Prom last year was the first in New York state.
Zonta’s fundraising recipient, the Guardian House of Saratoga, which is in Ballston Spa, opened its doors in October 2011 and provides a home for 11 veterans for up to 24 months. The organization relies heavily on grant funding and private donations, according to case manager Leigha Martin. She points out that the Guardian House is only the second program of its kind in New York.
One of the Zonta Club’s members, a veteran herself, is sponsoring the Guardian House residents who would like to attend the Mom Prom as a gift from one veteran to another. On Saturday, some of the women headed to La Moda Lisa, a Glenville
consignment shop, where owner Lisa Durand outfitted them with gowns for the event as a donation to the cause.
Consignment shops are filled with gowns brought by those who didn’t have a sentimental attachment to them or who don’t anticipate wearing them again. “Women spend a lot of money on them, and they don’t want to be seen in these gowns again,” Durand said. “They all have a story.”
Kathy Dunlap, a Navy veteran who served in Norfolk and Scotland and now lives at The Guardian House, was excited to be going to the Mom Prom.
“My real prom was a bit of a disappointment,” she said. She decided to go to have some fun. “And nobody’s trying to impress anybody else,” she said of the Mom Prom.
There are no dates required for this prom. In fact, it’s a ladies (over 21) only night out, and you don’t have to be a mom to go, but there will be plenty of moms there.
Darcy Williams, who served as a member of the Women’s Army Corps in the 1970s in Butzbach, Germany, and now lives at the Guardian House, will be attending with her daughter. She only went to one prom, as a ninth-grader, and she is looking forward to having her daughter attend this prom with her.
Some of the Zonta Club members shopped for their gowns at La Moda Lisa as well.
The club’s president, Susan Senecal of Rexford, will be attending not only Zonta’s Mom Prom this weekend, but also the one sponsored by Saratoga Hospital at McGregor Links Country Club on April 27 to raise funds for the Saratoga Hospital Breast Health Center at Wilton Medical Arts. That event sold out at the end of March with 164 attendees from Saratoga, Glens Falls and Lake Luzerne, said organizing committee member Suzi Ingmire.
Senecal’s sister helped to organize the Saratoga prom. “We felt there was enough interest to be able to support two proms,” said Senecal, who is happy to be able to contribute to both events.
Zonta’s Mom Prom is not yet sold out. The club has gotten donations for almost everything it needed for the event, so almost all the funds raised will go directly to The Guardian House. The Schenectady Ancient Order of Hibernians is donating its facility for the event, and the band Up All Night is providing an evening of dance music for free. Many other local business are donating food and silent auction items.
During the events, the organizations will be giving prizes for the tackiest prom dress and also crowning a prom queen.