By Jessica Nolte Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Nakeya Green says her "Queen In A Dress Program" is about more than just finding girls a prom dress. She says it's about giving girls the opportunity to feel like queens, confident and beautiful. It's also about the possibility of inspiring the girls to go out and make a difference for someone else.
Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
The greatest feeling of joy, aside from the birth of her children, that Nakeya Green has ever felt has come from helping girls find the perfect prom dress.
She says she can tell when they've found "the one" by the gleam in their eyes and the way their body posture shifts.
"It's like they're just glowing," Green said.
Green has moved several times, but now she's making York County, Va., her home. She serves as the Parent Teacher Student Association president at Grafton High School.
She's also a bit of a superstar in the York County VA 411 Facebook group, fellow York County resident JoAnne Foard said.
Last spring, Green turned to the Facebook group, asking for donations for the Fairy Godmothers of Virginia prom dress program in Norfolk. The York County community was eager to help.
On May 18, in a Facebook post, Green told her neighbors that because of their support she would try to bring a prom dress program to the Peninsula in 2019.
Now, she's making good on that promise.
This is about more than just a dress, Green said. It's about giving girls the opportunity to feel like queens, confident and beautiful. It's also about the possibility of inspiring the girls to go out and make a difference for someone else, Green said.
Green was inspired by her mother and her own prom experience. Her mother struggled to afford a prom dress and everything that went with it.
"Little did I know, it almost cost us our home," Green said.
Her mother died of cancer two years ago, but Green said until a few months before her death she was helping other young women find their dresses.
Green was forced to re-evaluate her own priorities when she faced personal health problems, including cancer.
"I tell anybody the greatest medicine you could ever take is to help someone else," Green said. "I learned that from her, and I just try to keep her legacy going."
During the seven years she worked with the Fairy Godmothers of Virginia prom dress program, Green said she'd taken turns working in nearly every aspect of the operation. But now that's she's creating her own prom drive, she's managing everything from collecting inventory to coordinating volunteers.
One thing she's been able to check off her list? Securing the location.
Foard said she often follows Green's posts in the Facebook group because Green is doing "amazing" things for the community "all the time." When Foard heard about Queen in a Dress needing a location, she knew she could help.
Foard asked her boss at the Fleet Reserve Association 172 if the prom dress program could be held there on a Monday when the Fleet Reserve is closed. She said there was no hesitation to donate the space.
"All those guys up there, they're military or they're retired military, and most of them have daughters. They're suckers for helping a little girl out," Foard said.
Green is already imagining how she'll transform the space. She wants the girls who come to feel like they're in an actual boutique so she's looking to recruit a decorating committee.
She's also settled on a color scheme for the day, teal and purple. Purple is the color of royalty, after all, Green said.
When a girl enters the Queen in a Dress event on April 1, she'll be greeted with a hug and a smile. An attendant will stay with her for as long as it takes for her to be outfitted from head to toe with a new dress, shoes and accessories.
"I want every young lady to feel like someone cares," Green said. "So time is of no essence." Each prom dress will cost $10. The fee pays for the storage costs throughout the year. Girls who cannot afford to pay the $10 will not be turned away, Green said.
Every girl who leaves with a dress will be given a bag with makeup and a book. Green said the book should serve as a reminder to the girls that their dreams do not stop at prom.
Books are just one of the ways Green has chosen to differentiate her prom dress program from others on the Peninsula. She's also decided not to require registration and to open the program to any girl needing a dress.
The Heart of a Princess prom dress program is in its third year on the Peninsula, and it hopes to serve 300 girls over the course of two days. But it does require girls to pre-register and requests only juniors and seniors who are going to prom to attend, event organizer Amy Jones said.
Jones said last year there was a girl who was hesitant about looking for a dress because of the size she needed.
"I'm glad she came, praise God she came," Jones said. "She was able to leave with a dress she liked in her size along with jewelry, shoes and a handbag."
Green started collecting dresses in October. She already has between 120 and 160 dresses, but said she still needs more. Like Jones, she's looking for dresses in all sizes. When April rolls around, Green is hoping to have at least 500 dresses and 150 pairs of shoes. She's also collecting makeup, jewelry and purses.
Six people have already volunteered to work as attendants at the event, and Green is still looking for more.
"There's such a feeling of accomplishment from seeing someone else's joy," Green said. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering can contact Green at [email protected]