The Prom Boutique began in 1998 in the cramped office of Sonia Clogston, a case worker for the state of Missouri who dealt primarily with girls in foster care or other care organizations. Before long, the dresses were exploding out of the office doors. In 2005, Sonia partnered with the Woods Chapel United Methodist Church in Lee’s Summit, and the Prom Boutique has grown exponentially ever since. In 2017, we gave away over 2,000 beautiful dresses to area teen girls and social agencies!
In 2005-2008, we served only Department of Family Services teen girls, giving away approximately 65 dresses each year. We expanded our outreach and publicity in 2009 and gave away 300 dresses that year; and the Boutique has grown ever since! The number of volunteers needed to staff our Boutique has also grown. It only took 8 of us in the early years; in 2017 it required over 250 volunteers to cover all the shifts of the four-day Boutique.
2018 will be our 14th Prom Boutique at Woods Chapel United Methodist Church.
We initially collected only dresses; we’ve expanded over the years to include shoes, evening bags, undergarments, jewelry and tuxedos/suits.
There are so many stories over the years...
--the dad who got tears in his eyes when his daughter walked around the corner in her dress. He said, "We drove 2 hours to see this moment. Thank you."
--the young lady who was just thrilled with her new dress and wanted to make a donation; all she had was 41 cents, but she gave it to us!
--the mom in a wheelchair who got special permission from hospice to accompany her daughter to the Boutique and see her try on dresses.
--the teary-eyed mom whose 2 daughters found dresses at our Boutique. She said they'd never had to worry about money that much until her husband was injured on his job and was denied workman's comp; they're appealing, but in the meantime there's no money coming in for extras like prom dresses.
--the 90-year-old lady who picked out an age-appropriate dress to go to her "senior" prom. She wasn't able to go to her high school prom 72 years ago, and it was on her "bucket list." Her caregivers and our Boutique helped make her dream come true. (We have one rack dedicated to "modest” dresses; many care centers have “shopped” our Boutique over the years for evening wear for their residents.)
--the male bus driver of one of the Kansas City high school groups told us that he'd been driving these girls for years and "this is the first time I've seen some of them smile."
--one of the thankful dads brought us pizza for lunch in 2011!
--a letter from a mom: "Thank you for putting this together each year. I got to see what it was all about when my daughter and I came last year. The whole event was so professionally put together, all the volunteers were so nice and they really went out of their way to make sure each girl felt special. My daughter loved a particular dress but the flowing sheer train of the dress skimmed the ground and had been torn. The seamstress jumped on it immediately and showed us what she could do and within 20 minutes or so, it was done! And, it was perfectly done, not 'well, if you don't look too close, done'. My daughter loved it!"
--the young man who called wanting to know if we would have any tuxedos at our Boutique. The answer was no (we weren’t collecting tuxedos yet), but we put the word out to our email group. Long story short, one of our volunteers contacted a friend who was the exact same size (42 long, 32/34), and this friend generously donated not only the tuxedo but all the accessories to go with it: shoes, shirt, cummerbund. Many tears all around when the young man, his girlfriend and his mom picked up the tuxedo and accessories. (Beginning in 2014, we’re also collecting tuxedos, tuxedo accessories and men’s suits.)
--from a social worker: "I was especially touched and blessed to see the way the volunteers treated each girl with such attention and respect...it's so much more than a dress; it's Christ's love shown through your generous spirits. The seeds you planted through your service will make an eternal difference in some lives, I believe!"