My Sister’s Closet, an annual event put on by the Department of Social Work and the city of Azusa, filled the LAPC room with racks of prom dresses on Saturday, March 19.
The event, now going on its ninth year, allows girls from local high schools to come pick out dresses, accessories and shoes to wear on their prom night—for free.
“We’ve been planning this since October, so it took about five months to plan,” senior social work major and intern for the social work department. “We had to reserve a room, gather enough donations, get volunteers and other stuff to make this possible.”
Everything available for the girls came from donations from members of the community. Along with different styles of dresses, there were tables lining the perimeter of the room filled with a plethora of heels, handbags and shawls, as well as brand-new makeup. Whatever the girls leave with, they can keep.
Preparation for the event started late Friday afternoon, with volunteers—mostly APU students—coming in to set up LAPC. The day was split into two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Those participating in the event preregistered online, giving the My Sister’s Closet staff an idea of how many girls would attend.
“There [are] a lot of girls [who] registered, but there are also some who just show up, and of course we let them in, too,” senior social work major Rachel Bailey said.
Most of the girls come from Azusa or surrounding areas, but others come from the greater Los Angeles area.
“We have some girls from Rialto, from Lawndale, from Bell Gardens,” Fraga said. “Anyone can come. It really just all depends.”
Before entering LAPC, each girl took a number and waited until a volunteer was available to help them out.
Each girl had an assistant with her as her very own personal stylist, helping her with picking out and holding on to her dresses, as well as escorting her around the room to make sure she had everything she needed.
Junior English major Caylen Smith volunteered as a personal stylist for the first time this year.
“I remember how much time and effort went in when getting ready for prom, and sometimes it can get pretty stressful,” Smith said. “I wanted to help out so that I can at least help ease the stress.”
One of the girls Smith helped, Deija January, a junior at Rancho Cucamonga High School, expressed her gratefulness.
“I heard about this event through my boyfriend’s mom, and decided to give it a try,” January said. “I’m glad this exists. It’s really helpful.”
Along with the personal stylists, there were also volunteer seamstresses from the surrounding community who were available to make custom adjustments to the dresses.
Makeshift fitting rooms were used to ensure that dresses fit just right, or to see where adjustments needed to be made.
In the end, January left with her perfect prom outfit—a black gown embroidered with sequins and sparkly gray shoes.
“This just took a burden off my shoulders,” January said. “Now, I’m just excited to have it all come together for prom.”