Salvation Army dresses low-income/foster care teens for the prom!

By Dawn Wells

To everything there is a season, including a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance. Thanks to The Salvation Army in Pasadena, this year’s prom will be a time to dance for 25 deserving Pasadena-area high school students who otherwise might not have been able to attend.

“Thirty thousand people in Pasadena are making $15,000 or less a year,” explained Pat Riley, director of social services for The Salvation Army in Pasadena. “People don’t expect that in the City of Roses.”

Knowing this time-honored high school tradition comes with a high price tag these days—from $100 admission tickets to dresses to a boutonniere for their date—the staff at The Salvation Army in Pasadena teamed up with the local school district and area businesses to get local low-income and foster teens ready for the big day.

The excited young ladies had a chance to sift through hundreds of new and gently worn prom dress and select the perfect dress for them.

Brenda Garcia, a senior at Blair High School, took two hours to choose her perfect dress, vacillating between a youthful peach taffeta dress and a more sophisticated deep amethyst-colored gown, ultimately going with the latter.

After her mother died when Brenda was just 7, she entered a loving foster home. Later, her father fought for custody and won, but struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and was in no place to care for her and her siblings. They ultimately ended up on the streets but Brenda bravely fought to get back into foster care and won.

Jeanette Rico is a senior at John Muir High School. Beaming in her new bright purple prom dress, she said, “I think today is a great opportunity for the girls in Pasadena. Without today’s event I would have to ask for money from my mom and dad, and that would have been a problem. They can’t always provide.”

Last summer she worked hard to save $1,000 to help offset senior expenses. Between these savings and the donated dress, she’ll make it to her senior prom.

All the teens attended a luncheon featuring track Olympic Gold Medalist Inger Miller who spoke about overcoming difficult circumstances in life.

The Salvation Army in Pasadena offers comprehensive services to the community, including food and clothing to the homeless, groceries for families in need, after school youth programs, and church services on Sunday mornings. For more information, contact Pat Riley via email at or by phone at (626) 773-4404.


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