LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — Prom can be an exciting night for Colorado teens, but with tickets, rides and outfits, it can be an expensive one as well.
That’s proving to be especially true this year with thousands of Coloradans still collecting unemployment checks to make ends meet.
“To have to tell your kid, it’s either food on the table this week or a prom dress, is where I wanted to kind of step in,” said Lena Pacheco-Rowen.
Pacheco-Rowen is quickly becoming known as “The Fairy Prom Mother,” a project she launched about a month ago to help girls find dresses for prom.
The basement of her Lakewood home is now serving as a makeshift boutique with hundreds of prom dresses filling clothing racks.
One room down, a floor-to-ceiling mirror allows girls to try on donated dresses, shoes and jewelry all completely free of charge.
“You’re dealing with mom and dad maybe struggling to buy food to put on the table and you’re dealing with real life stuff,” said Pacheco-Rowen. “So just for a minute, if I could help them escape that and become Cinderella for a night that would be great, and I think everybody deserves that, deserves that feeling.”
In Aurora, 16-year-old Sami Foy wasn’t planning on going to prom this year.
Her mother, a single mother of three, wasn’t set to be paid until Friday, leaving no money for a dress.
“My mom was in a crisis, and she went out on Facebook and tried to look for anyone who had a free dress because we didn’t have very much money, and it was short notice,” said Foy.
Pacheco-Rowen saw the post and drove to Aurora to let Sami try on multiple dresses.
“It was literally the best thing in the world, I am so grateful,” said Foy. “I was choosing between two, but the one, it just felt right. I didn’t want to take it off. And I wore it for like an hour around the house because I loved it so much.”
That dress is now Foy’s to keep, meaning the junior can wear it again next year if she’d like.
For now, the project is operated out of Pacheco-Rowen’s basement, but she hopes to one day turn it into a mobile boutique.
“The majority of the girls that I’m helping are living in low-income housing or low-income neighborhoods where parents are lucky if they have a vehicle,” she said. “If I could get an RV or a bus and bring my gowns to them, and (then) they have the luxury of just coming aboard and shopping for their dress.”
If you need a dress, or have one you can donate, you can do so here. Pacheco-Rowen has a bin outside of her home where dresses, jewelry and shoes can also be left anonymously.
You can also reach Lena at 720-822-4757. She’s also set up a GoFundMe to help raise money for a van or RV.