Donors, volunteers ensure all girls have access to prom dresses

DOWNEY – With prom season quickly approaching, the ASSISTEENS of Downey are preparing to provide high school girls who are less fortunate with some of the essentials to help make one of the most important evenings in high school as enchanting as possible. The ASSISTEENS is the teenage auxiliary group of the Assistance League of Downey (ALD). The Assistance League is a nationwide charity organization with 112 chapters located across the U.S.

The Downey chapter, comprised of the ASSISTEENS and the Gypsy Johnson Auxiliaries, has been officially chartered since 1975. ALD’s chapterhouse is located at Downey’s historic Casa De Parley Johnson property.

Both the ASSISTEENS and the Gypsy Johnson Auxiliaries provide different services and programs to the city of Downey, however they operate under the umbrella of the ALD. Many members refer to the ALD as “the mothership.”

The ASSISTEENS’s current charitable effort, known as Glamour Gowns, provides formal dresses for girls who may find themselves in need during one of the most exciting times of the school year. The program has been promoted by the auxiliary group for around five years.

“[Glamour Gowns] offers girls that are in need the chance to go to their prom or their winter formal with a free prom dress, a gift card to help them out with their shoes, jewelry, and some makeup,” said Stacy Brabant, a member of the Gypsy Johnsons Auxiliary for 22 years and chair to the Glamor Gown program. Brabant also had three daughters go through the ASSISTEENS.

Local businesses also help with the Glamour Gown program, providing discounts for other prom needs such as corsages, boutonnieres, and tuxedos for the young men.

In preparation for prom, the Glamour Gown event will be held at the ALD charter house on the 16th and 30th of this month.

Glamour Gowns is only one of the charitable programs that ALD and its auxiliary groups participate in. Other philanthropic projects include an annual Christmas distribution, scholarships for local high school students, educational puppet programs for elementary students known as Kids on the Block, and Operation School Bell, where ALD partners with Kohl’s department store to provide community students in need with school appropriate clothing and a hygiene kit.

One of ALD’s major efforts is the 10-unit apartment complex that is adjacent to Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. This particular program, known as Housing on Medical Emergencies or H.O.M.E., allows family members to stay close to their rehabbing loved ones at very low cost.

“People who come to Rancho are usually there for a while; they’re usually long term patients or have big problems,” said Adele Alexander, who has been involved with ALD for around 30 years. “These are their family or friends or people who take care of them, and we provide them with a room…They can stay in those units for ten dollars a night, which is really nothing.”

All of the ALD’s programs are fueled through fundraising and donation. Most of the money made by ALD comes from the Second Thyme Around Thrift shop. The thrift shop is open six days a week all year.

For more information on the Assistance League of Downey and its auxiliary groups, community members are encouraged to inquire at the Second Thyme Around Thrift Shop located on Downey Avenue.



Published: May 7, 2015 - Volume 14 - Issue 04