Girls Find Gowns of Their Dreams at YWCA's Prom Palooza

March 30, 2018

Ivalee Smith took a long look at herself in the mirror and beamed. She wore a dark gray gown with beading that resembled shooting stars, and the result was magical. “I felt absolutely beautiful,” she said later. “I felt like I was wearing the night sky.”

The 17-year-old high school senior recently found the dress of her dreams during one of YWCA Central Alabama’s Prom Palooza events held in Birmingham and Pell City. The YW provided free prom dresses and accessories to 222 girls, filling a tremendous need.

“The prom is such a special time for high school students, and we didn’t want anyone to have to miss out on this milestone event because of the high cost of dresses,” said Ty Jackson, coordinator of My Sister’s Closet. The YWCA’s boutique provides free professional clothing to clients and a high-quality, low-cost shopping option for the community.

“Prom Palooza is one of our favorite events,” she said. “It’s so much fun to watch the girls light up when they see how beautiful they look.”

This year’s event had a new component, a preview fashion show fundraiser organized by Mountain Brook High School student Parker Evans. The show, Fashion with Compassion, featured 20 high school juniors and seniors who modeled gowns they chose from the YW’s selection. “My goal was to unite Birmingham through fashion,” Parker said. “Everything fell into place perfectly.”

Parker read a brief biography celebrating the achievements of each model as she glided down a flight of stairs and across the room. The girls represented 12 high schools, including Center Point, Homewood, Hoover, Jackson-Olin, Minor and Parker.

“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,” Jackson told the models. “And to their parents, congratulations for a job well done.”

If you know of someone in need of a prom dress, contact Ty Jackson at

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