YWCA's Prom Palooza Event is Fit for a Queen

March 31, 2017

When 18-year-old Briana Caldwell arrived at Pell City’s St. Simon Peter Episcopal Church to search for the perfect prom dress, she had only one requirement in mind.
“Nothing else mattered,” the Talladega County Central High School senior said. “The dress just had to be purple.”
The idea was fitting, as Briana’s vision for her final prom night was one of royalty and extravagance. And this year, she had her sights set on being named prom queen, so her preparation was very important.
For many girls, the excitement and anticipation of prom night begins years in advance, but those feelings can quickly turn into stress and anxiety once dress shopping begins.
“Last year, one girl spent $500 on just her dress, and she only wore it one time,” Briana said. “That’s a lot of money for one night.”
Her mother, Toniece Stripling, said they had chosen instead to search long and hard for a less expensive dress. “We still paid over $100 in the end,” Stripling said, adding that family members chipped in to help with costs.
The tab was costly, so finding out about YWCA Central Alabama’s dress giveaway this year was such a relief. Each year at Prom Palooza, the YW provides free dresses, shoes and accessories to those in need. The YW offers the event in both Pell City and Birmingham for students who are referred by their guidance counselors.
“I really didn’t know what to expect, but when we got here, I was like ‘Wow!’" Stripling said. “We are just so thankful.”
Just like in a boutique, the girls found racks of gently used dresses in all shapes, sizes and colors. They could try on as many as they liked, and once they found a favorite, it was steamed and bagged for them to take home.


Briana with her purple dress.


“Prom Palooza is such a fun event for everyone involved,” said YW Coordinator of Career & Volunteer Programs Mary Jane Gibson. “We are so grateful to all the generous donors and wonderful volunteers who make it better and better each year. This is just another way the YW is there when girls in our community need it most. It truly is a win-win.”

And winning is exactly what Briana plans to do at her April 22 prom.
“Last year, when I looked in the mirror, I felt like a princess,” she said, smiling brightly. “This year, I will be a queen!”
To get involved with the YWCA or to support our programs, click here.