“Every bella deserves a beautiful prom,” is the mantra of The Bella Project. Sometimes it is financially hard for families to buy a dress when they are trying to just put food on the table. Enter fairy godmothers! On Saturday, March 1, 2014 The Bella Project will be holding their annual Bella Boutique at the Central Union Church, Parish Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. As a non-profit organization, The Bella Project provides new and virtually new dresses and accessories to high school women free of charge. Dresses donated by the local community, boutiques, pageant queens like 2013 Mrs. USA Universal Amanda Brad and The Bella Project’s own President Valerie Schmidt Mrs. Ultimate Elite 2014 are beautiful, stylish and in excellent condition.
The Bella Project was founded by Amanda Ross in 2009. In 2011, she moved away from Hawaii and turned it over to The Junior Leaugue of Honolulu. Three members from The Junior League, Valerie Schmidt, Tracie Young, and Charise Shigeta operated it and converted it into a 501(c)3 again independent from The Junior League. These ladies are currently the board members who are the leadership of The Bella Project.
The young women that come to The Bella Project leave with more than just a dress, shoes, accessories and makeup. With a hundred volunteers, each girl is paired up with a female adult volunteer to talk about what is going on in their world. Volunteers are strong professional women, moms, aunties, and mentors. For many of the young high school girls, it is the first time that someone has ever told them that they are beautiful or to have a strong female presence in their life. Here are some of the inspiring stories from those who have benefited from The Bella Project:
From a daughter: My mom was diagnosed with cancer, all of our money is going to her treatment. I am hoping that you will allow me to get a dress so my mom doesn’t have to worry about one more thing.
From a mom: My husband has been laid off since last year, now my daughter can get something nice from you.
From a mom: We live paycheck to paycheck. You have so many dresses for my daughter to choose from.
The goal of The Bella Project is to keep high school girls in school and reward them for continuing their education despite what is going on around them. In addition, they should know that there are people rooting for them and encouraging them to grow, succeed and become contributors to the community and maybe even return to The Bella Project as a volunteer to reconnect with their female mentors, thank them for their experience, pay it forward and say, “I was once like you, you are beautiful and you will make a difference!”
For more information on how to get a dress or make donations like The Bella Project Facebook page and check out their webssite: