For many high school students, attending prom can cost a fortune. Besides tickets for the event, there’s the dress or tuxedo to rent, a boutonnière or corsage for your date, a limo ride…it adds up fast. Boys may be on the hook for dinner; girls might like a prom-quality hairstyle and makeover. For Green Dot students, many of whose families struggle economically, the cost of prom can be prohibitive. This year, however, thanks to one family’s generosity and creative thinking, one Green Dot School found a way to make prom a little more special for 30 girls — without any additional expense.
Serving Boyle Heights, where 72% of families live on less than $40,000 a year and 41% live on less than $20,000 a year, Oscar De La Hoya Ánimo Charter School (ODLH) is named for boxing’s “Golden Boy,” who helped fund the school when Green Dot opened it in 2003. This year, De La Hoya’s cousin, Junior Salas, and De La Hoya’s sister, Ceci, teamed up with a group of professional stylists to provide free makeovers for 30 prom-going girls.
“They had to write an essay about tenacity, perseverance, and inner beauty,” says ODLH principal Cynthia Ybarra, explaining the process for awarding free makeovers. “We got together as a team and nominated the group based on these criteria, as well as and on who had overcome obstacles during the year. Any girl who nominated herself was automatically selected, and the others were made by teachers and staff.”
The afternoon before prom, the school’s multipurpose room was converted into a salon where, one by one, the girls emerged transformed. When asked if they had ever had their hair and makeup done before, the girls answered in unison: “Not like this!”
“This is so professional — everyone looks so pretty!” gushed senior Susana Hernandez. “Without this, I wouldn’t have known where to go, and I’d have had to pay a lot of money. I’m really excited for everyone looking really nice, and the dancing,” she added. One of the 20 volunteer stylists, Tom Luna, has made up A-list film and TV stars. “I work red carpet events all the time,” he says. “I know these girls really appreciate what we’re doing.”
Junior Salas says he had the idea for free makeovers around the holidays. “I had been talking to Ms. Ybarra about what was happening at the school and what kinds of problems students were struggling with,” he remembers. “She said she ends up helping kids out of her own pocket for many things. So we decided to do this. It’s all about helping people, and maybe next year we can do the whole senior class.”
Ceci De La Hoya agrees. “We’re a family that loves to give back to the community,” she says. “Being from East LA, so close to home, and for a school my brother helped fund, we were ecstatic to do this. We were really moved by the girls’ stories. They made it even more special to be here and help out.”
“All of us in the De La Hoya family were honored to take part in such a special event. All these kids deserve to have their prom be a great time to mark the passage of their younger lives into adulthood. We are hopeful we can put this event on for years to come.” – Oscar De La Hoya