For many high school girls, prom is all about finding the perfect dress. However, lower-income and homeless teens have limited options when it comes to buying formal gowns and attire.

To address this need, the Giving Gown Foundation is holding its annual event March 27-30 at Bammel Church of Christ on FM 1960 to not only provide free prom dresses but also empower young women through guided workshops and discussions.

“The girls come to us for a dress, but they leave with so much more,” said Cassie Miller, one of the event organizers.

The event, which is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, was originally founded in 2007 before being handed to Miller and a team of nearly a dozen others in 2014. The first event was attended by 82 girls but has expanded to serve 1,500 girls, Miller said.

“They set a beautiful foundation for us to be able to grow off of,” she said. “Each year we’ve increased [the number of girls we serve].”

Lower-income and homeless girls from all over Houston, including from Spring, Klein and Cy-Fair ISDs, can attend the event and typically arrive in school groups organized by their counselors. The last day to register is March 22.

“If they can get to us, we will serve them,” Miller said.

When the girls arrive, they are taken to an empowerment workshop to discuss topics related to self-esteem.

“They are ... taught that they are capable and they are strong and they are worthy of great things and they are beautiful just as they are,” Miller said. “We are going to focus on building up their self esteem and telling them that just how they are is enough.”

The girls then enter the boutique and are assigned a fairy godmother, or a personal shopper that provides one-on-one attention. Miller said the boutique has thousands of gowns to choose from in sizes 0-36, as well as shoes and jewelry. Free onsite alterations are also provided.

A cafe, sponsored by Strike Energy, is available during the event to provide a free meal for each girl.

This year, the organization is offering a $2,000 scholarship for college, funded by Tide Dry Cleaners. The recipient will be chosen by an independent group, Miller said.

“We really are focusing on empowering [the girls], whether it’s through their self-esteem or through their future goals,” she said.

Gown donations can be made at any Houston-area Tide Dry Cleaners. The store will clean and deliver the dress free of charge, Miller said. The organization also accepts new shoes, handbags and beauty supplies as well as monetary donations, which can be mailed to the church.

Giving Gown Foundation
March 27-30. Hours vary by event day. Free. Bammel Church of Christ.
2700 FM 1960, Houston