Henrico County VA
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Prom Mom

Effort collects dresses for high school teens

Movie star Katherine Heigl had 27 bridesmaid’s dresses. Jenny High is way ahead of her.

High, a Henrico County mother, has more than 250 prom dresses. She doesn’t plan on keeping these dresses tucked away in a closet.

The donated new and gently-used dresses along with shoes, accessories and men’s suits and tuxedoes will help make prom night special for about 200 students.

Hermitage High School’s PTSA, a team of volunteers and High collected the items for the school’s first ‘Prom Bring It’ event on March 31.

Another 150 dresses will be donated by Promisses, a Richmond nonprofit group that has collected and given away dresses for the past five years.


High (pictured) began organizing the Henrico event to help make sure that as many students as possible have a chance to get prom queen glamorous (or prom king handsome) despite a tough economy.

“High school should be a time in life that you not only learn, but enjoy, and develop memories,” High said. “I didn’t want children to miss one of the most pivotal events in their lives due to financial challenges.”

The cost of outfitting a teen for a prom can add up. Dresses can cost about $300 or $400 and there’s still the price of shoes and accessories.

Students at participating Henrico County high schools must register with their guidance counselors to participate in the ‘Prom Bring It’ event. Some of the students who have already registered told High they’re participating because they want to take some responsibility for their prom without going to their parents for money.

Eventually, the outfits that are collected will be moved to a donated storefront at Virginia Centers Common mall. Students who have registered will “shop” at the event for outfits to wear to their proms.

For now, the dresses of varied sizes, colors and styles and other items are kept secure in an unusual storage area. Chris Rollison, Hermitage High’s director of student activities, gave us a tour recently.

“We’re underneath the gymnasium,” Rollison explained. “Behind you is our basketball team room. Across the hallway is our wrestling team room. This is a storage area for some wrestling equipment. Our girl’s soccer team stores some things in here.”

The room isn’t upscale but it works well for now as more items arrive and are hung on donated clothing racks or stacked in boxes inside built-in storage units.

High and others on the committee are working to make the final arrangements for the main event. She said they still need more suits and tuxes for the young men. And many of the donated items still need dry cleaning.

“The amount of work that goes into organizing an event like this is more difficult than I imagined,” High said. “Thank God for the ladies on my committee. They have been a great support.”

Clothing stores, shoe stores, and beauty salons, along with other merchants, have donated items, services and money.

“I am amazed at the overwhelming support from local and major businesses,” High said.

Another committee member, Charlene Easter of Epiphany Beauty, will donate her expertise. She’ll conduct workshops for the young ladies to show them how to apply their make-up, style their hair and how to accessorize for their special night.

The Henrico County volunteers have gotten support from Promisses, which was started in 2007 by Latasha Tucker, according to the group’s website. Tucker launched the group with the goal of providing less fortunate girls the chance to have a selection of gently-worn but pretty prom dresses. The group collected so many dresses it can now share some with other prom events.

Davia Archer, a Promisses volunteer, said the group will host its sixth annual shopping day in Petersburg on March 17 for girls in the Tri-Cities area. She said the event is her way of making up for a missed opportunity.

“I did not attend my own prom. Therefore, I live vicariously through the hundreds of teen girls we help each year,” Archer said.

High recalled her prom night. She said that her father, who is from the Dominican Republic, and her mother, who is Lebanese, didn’t really understand how important the prom was for her. They were focused more on her graduation so her prom wasn’t as fabulous as she would have liked.

High said she wants these students to have good memories of the entire high school experience including prom night. “It’s a night you share with your closest friends, a memory that will live on forever.”

Asked if she feels like a fairy godmother, High laughed and said, “There are a lot of fairy godmothers involved [in this project.]”

For details about Prom Bring It, visit http://www.facebook.com/PROM.BRING.IT For d.etails about Promisses, visit
http://www.promisses.org
.


Community

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

New Italian restaurant opens in Short Pump

Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.

Henrico native to appear on Travel Channel show


A Henrico native will appear on the third episode of the Travel Channel's new grilling competition series “American Grilled.”

The episode, filmed in Charlottesville, will premier July 16 at 9 p.m. and feature Glen Allen-native Rex Holmes, a patent lawyer who operates http://SavoryReviews.com a blo,g centered around tasty recipes and BBQ.

The show features hardcore grilling enthusiasts from across the country going head-to-head for a chance to compete for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights when they are crowned the ultimate “grill master.” > Read more.

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