Going to prom—it’s a defining moment in the life of many high schoolers, including the young people at Mercy Home.

Sadly, years ago, our young women’s dreams of going to prom had to stay just that—dreams. And it might still be that way, had friend of the Home Suzanne Zaccone not stepped in.

For years now, Suzanne has spent a lot of time with our older girls, arranging things like cooking classes and other outings. One day, she was talking with some of our girls and asked them if they were getting excited about prom, which was coming up shortly.

“They all kind of looked down and they weren’t really wanting to talk about prom,” she remembered. “I kept prodding them, saying ‘c’mon, are you telling me you don’t want to go to prom?’”

“It’s a milestone kind of thing to do … and it’s a good memory. I have been a strong proponent for making memories and building experiences with the kids in my life at home. These kids are also in my life, they wanted to go so we were happy to make it happen and become a part of their memory and experience.”

The program manager of the girls’ home at the time, Monti Clayton, took Suzanne aside and told her that a lot of the girls couldn’t afford to go to prom, but would likely want to go. Suzanne was determined to make that happen for them.

“At that point, I decided that if the kids wanted to go to prom, they should have that opportunity,” she said. “It’s a milestone kind of thing to do … and it’s a good memory. I have been a strong proponent for making memories and building experiences with the kids in my life at home. These kids are also in my life, they wanted to go so we were happy to make it happen and become a part of their memory and experience.”

At first, Suzanne thought that she could bring some of her own formal dresses to the Home for the girls to wear. But she soon realized that wasn’t the way to go.

“We’re talking young girls, who have a dream of their own kind of dress in mind, not something from me,” she said. “So, then we changed tactics and decided to go dress shopping.”

“The girls try on as many dresses as it takes to find the one, and it’s exciting because they have all the other girls to chime in,”

Prom dressesDuring the shopping trip, Suzanne generously purchased dresses for each of our young women who wanted to attend prom.

And when prom night came around, it lifted the spirits of all the girls at Mercy Home—not just those attending.

“Monti said that the younger kids were really kind of excited because they got to see the older kids get dressed up and taking pictures and having their hair done and makeup done and having their beautiful dresses on right before they left for prom,” she said. “So, the younger kids were all excited hoping they would have that opportunity as well.”

After hearing that, Suzanne knew that this couldn’t be a one-time thing—and after around 15 years of shopping with our girls for prom dresses, it’s become a Mercy Home tradition.

Every spring, Suzanne, Monti, and the current program manager of the older girls’ home, Gewanda Monroe, take our young women to a dress shop to try on and choose their prom dress.

“The girls try on as many dresses as it takes to find the one, and it’s exciting because they have all the other girls to chime in,” Suzanne said.

After the girls choose their dresses, Suzanne then treats everyone to lunch and they “talk about whatever [the girls] want to talk about.”

This shopping trip is a memorable event for all our young women, and they enjoy spending time with each other and helping the other girls choose the perfect dress. This year, Suzanne took eight of our kids shopping. Tashe’ara, who was one of them, said that she initially was overwhelmed by the number of dresses she had to choose from, but eventually found the perfect dress.

“It was a nice experience seeing everyone’s faces, their reaction, to the dress I picked,” she said.

The girls weren’t afraid to try on as many dresses as it took—Julia tried on five and Mia tried on eight before finding the one. All of them left excited about their choice.

“It was a nice experience seeing everyone’s faces, their reaction, to the dress I picked,”

“At the end I found a dress that I liked,” Julia said. Tashe’ara added, “Everybody picked a beautiful dress.”

But the enjoyable part of the day wasn’t just finding the gown to fulfill the girls’ prom dreams—it was also spending time with Suzanne.

Julia said that she was “so nice” and Brianna added that she was easy to talk to.

“She was really authentic and very helpful with picking the dresses,” Tashe’ara said.

And as the girls got ready for prom, enjoying the opportunity to spend time with friends, get glammed up for an evening, and make a lifelong memory, they remembered the shopping trip with Suzanne fondly.

“It was just a great experience,” Julia said.

Thank you to Suzanne for making all of our young women’s prom dreams come true year after year!

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