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At Gardens Mall, prom-bound seniors who can't afford dresses will have their pick

The Palm Beach Post logo The Palm Beach Post 2/14/2020 By Jodie Wagner, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
a woman posing for a picture: Claudia Valdes, left, with Nancy Stellway. [Contributed by The Gardens Mall] © Contributed by The Gardens Mall/Observer-Dispatch/The Palm Beach Post, Fla./TNS Claudia Valdes, left, with Nancy Stellway. [Contributed by The Gardens Mall]

PALM BEACH GARDENS -- For some prom-bound high school seniors, purchasing a gown can be a financial strain.

But a local nonprofit hopes to alleviate those concerns with a new pop-up store at The Gardens Mall.

PROMmisses, sponsored by the Mirasol Foundation, helps outfit high school seniors in Palm Beach County who cannot afford to buy a prom dress or accessories.

a group of people standing in a room: Yuliet Fernandez Perez tries on a prom dress through the Mirasol Foundation‘s PROMmisses program. [Contributed by The Gardens Mall] © Contributed by The Gardens Mall/Observer-Dispatch/The Palm Beach Post, Fla./TNS Yuliet Fernandez Perez tries on a prom dress through the Mirasol Foundation‘s PROMmisses program. [Contributed by The Gardens Mall]

The PROMmisses program, now in its third year, will be held inside The Gardens Mall for the first time.

In previous years, the nonprofit ran the event out of a bus.

"It was very well-received," said Kathy Savarese, president of Mirasol Foundation. "We started getting more and more gowns, and we needed to find a bigger space. The only location I could think of was The Gardens Mall. They've been so supportive."

a bunch of clothes hanging: PROMmisses, sponsored by the Mirasol Foundation, helps outfit high school seniors in Palm Beach County who cannot afford to buy a prom dress. The foundation has set up a popup store in The Gardens Mall through February. [Contributed by The Gardens Mall] © Contributed by The Gardens Mall/Observer-Dispatch/The Palm Beach Post, Fla./TNS PROMmisses, sponsored by the Mirasol Foundation, helps outfit high school seniors in Palm Beach County who cannot afford to buy a prom dress. The foundation has set up a popup store in The Gardens Mall through February. [Contributed by The Gardens Mall]

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The foundation's 2,395-square-foot space on the mall's lower level near Nordstrom gives teens plenty of space to try on donated gowns and pick out shoes and a purse to accessorize.

Once gowns are selected, they are altered on site.

High school juniors who try on prom gowns also can pick out semi-formal dresses to wear to homecoming festivities in the fall, Savarese said.

Teens receiving prom gowns must be referred to PROMmisses by a coach, teacher, pastor or other mentor. For information on referrals, contact president@mirasolfoundation.org.

The PROMmisses space is not open to the public, though referral information will be handed out to those who stop by, Savarese said.

PROMmisses expects to outfit at least 50 girls during this year's prom season, more than doubling last year's total.

"When a girl finds the dress she wants, there is a transformation," Savarese said. "Her posture changes, her eyes light up. It's like she can see new possibilities for her life."

The gowns and accessories that the students pick out are theirs to keep.

The PROMmisses space will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m on Feb. 15, 22 and 29; and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. from Feb. 18-21 and Feb. 25-28 .

Those wishing to donate gowns, shoes or accessories can drop off items off at the mall's information desk Feb. 15 through Feb. 29 during mall hours.

"Prom season is a special time," said Whitney Pettis Jester, the mall's director of marketing and merchant relations. "It's a rite of passage in your high school experience, so it's fun for us to be a part of that magic."

The Mirasol Foundation, founded in 2016, provides financial support for qualifying nonprofit agencies that administer critical programming for under-served residents in Palm Beach and surrounding counties.

Last year, it awarded financial grants totaling $200,000 to two dozen nonprofit and civic organizations.

For information, visit www.mirasolcc.com/mfi.

jwagner@pbpost.com

@JRWagner5

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©2020 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

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