Fashion with Compassion

“I felt absolutely beautiful, I felt like I was wearing the night sky.”

- Ivalee, participant

Background Information

After going to Saks 5th Avenue with her mother, swooning over the long gowns her mother tried on, Parker couldn’t wait to buy her own long evening gown for her big night. Buying your first prom dress is like coming of age— you are finally old enough to be the big kid, to go to the dance, to feel beautiful. Buying a prom dresses is not an easy investment and not everyone can afford to do it, but Parker believed that every girl should get the chance to feel that kind of beautiful on their night of prom— starting with the dress.

Alongside the community Parker worked to collect dresses that had been gently used and were no longer needed. She collected shoes and accessories and raised money for the YWCA, an organization dedicated to eliminating domestic violence and racism. Parker’s end goal was to make these women feel not only beautiful, but confident.

Implementation of Project

In order for Parker’s project to be successful, she needed the help of the schools in the Greater Birmingham area. Parker went to over twenty schools in Birmingham to connect with the school counselors (because personalization brings accountability). The 40 other schools Parker did not go to in person, she reached out to via email and phone. At each meeting, Parker introduced the project and told them how they could get students involved and then gave them packets that included posters for Fashion with Compassion and Prom Palooza and a letter re-stating all the information. Students were given a link to sign up to receive a free prom dress and also had the chance to sign up for the fashion show. After visiting the schools, Parker began collecting dresses and accessories. She found that collecting dresses was easier than expected and was overwhelmed with the help of the community.

Results of Project

After spending countless days working on getting sponsors, planning, and collecting dresses and with the help of over 40 volunteers (including 10 high school students and 15 students from the University of Georgia), the Fashion with Compassion fashion show was finally ready for the big debut. The night of the fashion show Parker had over 100 people show up to support her project and the young women of Birmingham. The show consisted of 25 girls representing 12 schools across the Greater Birmingham area. Parker found that they most challenging part of the day was asking for help and after an overwhelming first hour of setting up Parker quickly saw that she couldn’t do it alone. Parker couldn’t hold back the tears when the models were getting ready and they looked in the mirror in their new dress. It was a special moment for everyone to witness and the moment the girls put on the dress Parker knew that her long hours of work were worth it. The night of the show was a huge success and each and every one of the models looked beautiful.

At the end of the event Fashion with Compassion and Prom Palooza collected over 1,000 dresses. 250+ girls received free dresses and with the leftover dresses we were able to send them to other schools who could not attend the dress drive.

“To the future doctors, lawyers, surgeons, law enforcement officers, fashion business owners, scientists, engineers and military leaders who walked the runway, we thank each of you.  And to their parents, congratulations for a job well done.”

– Ty Jackson, My Sister’s Closet

What’s Next

Parker plans on continuing Fashion with Compassion with the partnership with the YWCA.  Her project has opened many new opportunities for her in her community and introduced her to further leadership positions in the community. Parker plans on expanding her Culminating Leadership Project next year and her goal is to collect over 100+ plus size dresses. She plans on passing on the project to a younger member of the community to continue it when she leaves for school in 2019. Parker is currently undecided about where she would like to go to college, but she hopes to major in business and or textiles with a minor is Spanish.