100 Dresses, 100 Smiles

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April 9, 2014  New Haven    Earlier this week,  100 prom dresses were lined up on a rack at Executive Cleaners’ corporate headquarters, in Milford.  Throughout the year, young women have dropped off lightly used prom dresses to Executive Cleaners. Upon arrival, the dresses are dry cleaned, gratis, for Project Hope.

This is the fourth year that Khalilah Abdulrahim, the originator of Project Hope, in New Haven, has coordinated the program, Say “Yes” to the Prom Dress.  Ms.Abdulrahim has directed donors to bring prom dresses to Executive Cleaners.  Racks of freshly cleaned prom dresses await high school seniors who cannot afford a dress or hair services.

This Saturday, April 12th from 12-4pm, at Hillhouse High School, 480 Sherman Parkway, New Haven, CT, prom dresses will be offered, free of charge, discounted hair services will be made available to any female high school senior in Connecticut.

“You should see the looks on their faces,” .  Ms.Abdulrahim recalled. “Back in 2011, the first year I collected dresses, I got them from friends and put them in the trunk of my car.” She made an arrangement with Andre Dupree, the former principal of her old school, Wilbur Cross High School. They offered these dresses to girls who lacked the resources to attend their own prom.  Racks were set up in the gymnasium and the first Say “Yes,” was a huge success.

For some girls, this is the first time they have ever dressed up or visited a hair salon,” Ms.Abdulrahim writes in her introduction letter.  She expressed that getting such generous support from community- minded persons, like Clem and Vahid Yazdani, at  Executive Cleaners, is invaluable for this project.”

Ms. Abdulrahim went on to say, “One teen mom from Hill House High School in New Haven, picked out her dress and came to the prom feeling empowered.  She graduated Summa Cum Laude and went on to win the Melinda Gates Scholarship Award for college.”  This year, Andre Dupree, now assistant principal at Hillhouse High School, along with Kermit Carolina, the principal, will be setting up for 1300 dresses awaiting their new matches.

Executive Cleaners owner, Vahid Yazdani, said, “We like to be involved in our community and Project Hope occupies a special place in my heart.  It gives me great pleasure to do something for these girls who may, one day, make a difference in their community.”For more information contact Khalilah Abdulrahim at ProjectHopeCT@gmail.com or call 203-936-9510.