Organization loans out formal dresses

Courtesy photo

Tyleen Caffrey poses in front of her selection of formal wear

excited for her first Prom Extravaganza of the year at Portales High School.

The idea was to help 10 to 15 girls go to prom, four years later, Tyleen Caffrey helps supply formalwear to the local community for special occasions.

The social worker and member of the Cannon Spouses Club founded Monarch Formals in 2008, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to establishing positive memories during important occasions in one's life.

As prom season approaches, this month Caffrey was at Portales High School with her Prom Extravaganza.

Caffrey collects gently used and new dresses as well as accessories. High school students in the area were invited to pick out dresses for free but students are required to return the dresses after prom.

"We're geared more towards people with financial need but our dresses and services are based on an as-need basis," Caffrey said.

She noted that the Portales area is two hours from a formalwear store, and while some are able to travel to purchase a dress, others cannot.

Donations are what keep Monarch Formals in the position to help others. Donations can be in the form of a dress, money, or services.

And Caffrey doesn't just have dresses for prom, she also supplies formalwear for events like homecomings and military balls.

While in graduate school, Caffrey was the president of the Student Association of Social Workers (SASW). She initiated and led a prom dress project in which she collected over 500 dresses, and other donations including services like hair styling.

Caffrey says her background inspired this specific project. She entered the foster care system a few weeks before her junior prom.

With no money or a prom dress, Caffrey reached out to her foster parents for help. She says they gave her an unforgettable evening and she was appreciative of their generosity.

"This is what was done for me so this is my way of giving back," Caffrey said.

Caffrey has moved around quite a bit being a military wife and Monarch Formals is what she takes with her.

"The communities that we serve in are always giving to us," said Caffrey about a community's response to military families.

Caffrey wants to continue making girls' dreams come true. Her motto is, "Give your dress a second dance," and she encourages people to donate dresses that they don't wear anymore so that someone else can enjoy it.

  • For additional information about Monarch Formals and how you can donate, contact Tyleen Caffrey at (575) 749-8177 or email her at
  • The next Prom Extravaganza will be held at Melrose High School on Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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