Dress drive helps make prom affordable

By Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico

Ty Caffrey is trying to help teenagers have the perfect prom, even if they can’t afford the high price tag.

Caffrey organized a prom dress drive Saturday at Matt 25 Hope Center and partnered with Clovis Community College and Life Choice. The drive provides area high school students with a free dress, accessories, and possibly a free hair style, nails and make-up for prom.

“Prom is a big part of high school, but it can be a large expense,” she said. “It’s hard to fit that into a budget, especially now in this economy.”

Although the program originated to help foster youth, Caffrey said they will be able to accommodate other girls hoping to go to prom.

Caffrey has first hand experience with foster care and wanted to reach out to other girls in the same situation.

“Two weeks before prom I went into foster care,” she said. “Even if I was still with my family, it’s hard to ask for enough money to fund prom. But just moving in with a new family, you’re emotionally unsettled and it’s just an added difficulty.”

Caffrey, a social worker with Family Advocacy at Cannon Air Force Base and KTQM radio host, said she was lucky because her foster mom made her dress.

“Not every child has that opportunity,” she said.

While a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi, Caffrey organized a prom dress drive that collected nearly 500 dresses. It began as a community service project to service foster youth in her local community when Caffrey was serving as president of the Student Association of Social Workers.

“I think that prom is a piece of high school legacy,” Caffrey said. “Foster children miss out so many times in their lives-new parents, new friends, moving from home to home and maybe school to school. If they can just have this one little memory, it will instill a lasting impression.”

Caffrey relocated to Cannon with her family in May and wanted to continue the program in her community.

Janet Birkey, executive director of Life Choice, said she partnered with Caffrey and the project because it is another chance to help young women.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to meet a need in their life,” she said.

Life Choice is a pregnancy resource which helps men, women and families deal with an unplanned pregnancy, Birkey said.

Any student who attends Life Choice’s abstinence course Path to Purity will get their hair, nails and make-up done for free by cosmetology students at Clovis Community College.

When May 2 and prom passes, Caffrey won’t be done with the project however.

“I’m hoping to keep it ongoing as a non-profit based out of Matt 25,” she said. “That way anyone who needs a dress for anything, but just can’t afford it, can come get a dress.”

To donate or pick a dress, contact Ty Caffrey at 763-4400 extension 2502 for an appointment.