Grad gowns change lives

You'll Be There continues to help girls who can't afford prom or grad dresses to obtain a dress so they can still go with their friends

Women uplifting women is what it’s all about, says Rosalee Morgan who helps girls get their dream of going to grad and prom in a beautiful dress.

This is all about paying it forward,” she says. “A lot of times they’re like “I can’t believe I’m going to make it to grad.’ A lot of times they want to say ‘if it wasn’t for you’ and I say ‘if it wasn’t for all the women in northwest and their donations, it’s not possible.’”

Morgan got involved in You’ll Be There, a program that accepts slightly used gowns for girls who can’t afford one for grad and prom, when she volunteered to do hair and makeup with Darlene Reid, who started the program here. When Reid moved, she wanted the program to stay in Terrace and Morgan decided to see it continue.

Some girls never think they’ll see themselves looking so beautiful in a gown because some are not comfortable with their bodies but Morgan tells them that’s the body they have for their lifetime and once they know what looks good on them they’ll be able to shop for clothes.

Girls come to her from all over the northwest including Kitkatla, the Nass Valley, Kitimat, Kitamaat, Hazelton, Gitanyow and Kitwanga.

She was booked up this past weekend for girls coming to get dresses and says a lot of the girls who come in are from families where their moms are working just to pay the rent and they’re working two jobs to help pay for utilities.

Some are living independently, some come from families where their parents both work, but they just don’t have the spending money.

They often don’t know what size they are and then they get to see how they look in a fancy gown.

Women who donate their dresses often share the story about the item they’re giving, says Morgan.

One young woman dropped off a pair of beautiful shoes, and said her mom had passed away and these were her favourite shoes. She didn’t have the heart to throw them away and thought she’d give away what was so special for her mom so they could be special for someone else.

I said they’re imprinted with love. I said well we walk around with energy, good energy,” she said, adding she believed the girl’s mom was imprinted on those shoes and the young woman who walked out with those shoes would feel what her mother felt while wearing them.

One girl who donated a gown said when she wore her gown, her grandmother hugged her and told her how beautiful she was and kept telling her that. She wanted someone else to feel that with their own grandmother and mom.

Morgan’s husband is a manager at Sport Chek and his boss lets him accept donations at the store. The other employees get so excited when a gown donation comes in, they will announce it on the headset so the whole store can hear and are all eager to bring it to him.

And dropping the dresses off at the store really gets the community involved.

Morgan suggests to girls that they should learn how to sew so they can alter their own clothes because we’re all shaped differently.

They ask ‘what do you mean’, so I say to them this is what it’s like to be women nowadays and this is what you have to do,” she says, adding that she often alters her clothing to fit better.

Some of the dresses she’s received are very plain, but with places in town to buy items to jazz them up plus the internet, she will suggest to girls that they “bling it up and make it yours.”

When the girls are trying on a dress, she’ll get them to move around, sit down and walk around to get a feel for what it’s like to wear.

Some girls, the dress wears them but after about five to 10 minutes, they’re wearing the dress. They’re just giggling and they’re feeling like a princess,” says Morgan.

One girl wanted to take a flower off the dress and put a butterfly on it for her little cousin who died when she was small and to get some charms with her dad’s initials to put over her heart in his memory, says Morgan.

What a wonderful idea. What a way to honour him,” she says, adding the girl really liked how she looked wearing the gown and felt very ladylike.

It’s only May and already Morgan’s given out 17 gowns and is in need of donations, particularly plus sizes, size 10 shoes, jewelry and accessories.

Along with more dresses, which can be long or short, Morgan is looking for volunteers to do alterations, and someone who would do the girls’ hair and makeup. Anyone who wants to get in touch with Morgan about donations or with any questions can contact her on her cell phone 250-641-4038.