So she looked for way to give back, organizing a free shopping day in a local church basement for families in need in her community of Rigaud, Quebec. She was shocked at how well it was received, servicing 53 families. “When you need help, your choices are limited, so I thought that it be nice to be able to choose,” says Hood. That evening, a social worker reached out to Hood, looking for a prom dress. Hood didn’t—but the idea kept her up all night. By morning, the mother of two had formulated an idea—Promise for Prom.
A one-woman operation, the non-profit organization Promise for Prom is geared towards outfitting teens in need of not only a prom dress, but the prom experience. Using a collection of 1,500 donated dresses, the Rigaud resident then reaches out to businesses in the relevant community to find charitable donations, in the form of hair and nail appointments, alongside flower donations. “The plan was, for all families in need, they could rent the dress or shoes for free,” says Hood. On the very day that she conceived the idea, she received one dress. Within a week, Hood had 300 ready-to-wear prom dresses hanging in her basement. Most businesses were eager to donate their time and resources to the cause, with Hood offering free annual advertising on her Facebook page in exchange.
Due to the advancement of her illness, Hood will be relocating to the West Island come spring, which has inspired her incentive to place the Promise for Prom project directly within eight high schools. Chateauguay Valley Regional High School was one of the schools chosen to host Hood’s idea, with local Sandra Myatt heading up the project. While Hood initially set out to help those in need, she points out that parents are spending a notable amount on prom—an amount that could be put towards secondary education. “It’s just so much money to spend for one night,” explains Hood. “Kids are more conscious nowadays of the importance of reuse, recycle,”—which is why the program is open to all, not just those in need.
Hood has a special place in her heart for foster children, having been one herself. Her services will still be offered to group home and foster children through her exclusively. In the future, Hood simply hopes that her FB page will serve as a bridge to connect people.
If you would like to donate gently used prom wear (not more than ten years old) or equipment (such as shelving, paint, mirrors, display cases or rolling racks) to Chateauguay Valley Regional High School’s prom room, please call the school at 450-829-2381. Donations may be made to the main office during business hours. If you are a foster child or group home resident, please contact Lou-Anne Hood directly at 450-451-6023 or check out Promise for Prom’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/apromiseforprom/.