HelpJaMM donates dresses and makeup for senior prom

Photo by Chris Sykes
One of the Cicely Tyson School students who received a free prom dress from the Help Jamaican American Medical Mission charity group stands with her prom date on Friday, June 2, during the annual pre-senior prom event at the school, prior to the actual prom that evening.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — Help Jamaica Medical Mission donated gowns to three young ladies and professional cosmetic makeup services to three others attending their senior prom at the Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts Class of 2017 on Friday, June 2.

Help JaMM is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in East Orange that was founded in January 2010 by Dr. Robert Clarke, with the assistance of Dr. Rudolph Willis, in order to provide free quality health care to the medically disadvantaged in both Jamaica and New Jersey. According to Celia O’Gilvie, the organization’s public relations chairwoman, it is composed of health care professionals such as herself, including Judi Ali and Venetia Harrison, as well as nonmedical personnel such as Angela Palmer, the vice president and finance chairwoman. All attended the CTS senior prom to make sure the six senior girls got what they needed.

Caslyn Enmore applied the makeup to the three lucky ladies who benefitted from the donation.

“We’re here because we donated some dresses and we did makeup for some of the ladies attending the Cicely Tyson High School Prom,” said O’Gilvie on Friday, June 2, during the annual pre-prom “Toast-Off” event at the school. “We want health care for every living person, so our organization does fundraisers to give free medical care to residents in New Jersey, as well as Jamaica. We take a trip every year in September and we buy medication and glasses and we collect clothing and we go and donate our time and whatever we collect to these citizens.”

Harrison said the nonprofit charity decided to donate the dresses and makeup to some of the CTS senior girls because they understand that not everyone in the community has the financial means to attend proms, just as not everyone has access to proper medical care. She also said they just wanted to help the girls have good prom memories they will cherish forever.

“Sometimes we have, in the community, people that are not able to afford that, and we just wanted for these kids to have an even chance to have that memory of their graduation,” said Harrison on Friday, June 2. “It was just a way for us to be a part of the community. We always have to give back where we are what we get from here.”

Harrison, O’Gilvie, Ali and Palmer said they were happy to contribute, and Elisha Washington, the CTS Class of 2017 senior advisor said she was glad they did, too.

“Today, we have our Senior Toast Off, hosted by our junior class, so everyone’s here just looking beautiful and lovely,” said Washington on Friday, June 2. “Every year, the junior class hosts the Toast Off to send their seniors off to prom and everyone gets to look at them outside and admire them before they come in and make a toast, then go off to the prom. This class right here is our performing arts class. This school is going to sorely, sorely miss them when they’re gone.”

Washington said the members of the CTS Class of 2017 are “all extremely, extremely talented in their own arts.” They also have plenty of style, and it was on full display at the Toast Off.

“They are a very stylish class,” Washington said. “They’re actually battling each other for prom king and queen. So I know the jackets were going to be a big deal for the guys.”

Several of the CTS Class of 2017 members agreed with Washington’s statements about their individual and collective sense of style. In fact, many had very clear ideas about it.

“Style is something that you can call your own. Style is different for everybody; that’s what I call it. My style is always live. I like color. That’s the thing. I love it,” Alshon Dennis, a CTS senior, said, adding that the whole class made an effort to be stylish, especially his other male classmates, who he was competing against for the title of prom king.

“The guys, they came out,” said Dennis on Friday, June 2. “If you go around, everybody looks nice. It’s not just one person. Money, that’s what it is. I don’t got that yet, but money, that’s what it is.”

Some of his classmates, including Marvin Burt, Demani Andrews, Arthur McClendon and Robert Allen, didn’t agree, saying they also had their own definitions and ideas about style.

“Style is whatever you feel is real,” said Allen on Friday, June 2. “It’s whatever you like, basically.”

McClendon said, “Style, to be honest, is more self-expression.”

“It’s whatever makes you feel like you,” said McClendon on Friday, June 2. “Whatever puts you out there, basically speaking. You’re making about yourself that other people can see.”

According to Andrews, “Style is rolling up in the club, being the odd man out, but you’re looking good doing it, too.” He agreed with McClendon, but also agreed with Burt that “style, to me, is you can look good while looking plain at the same time.”

“You just have to have something nice and colorful,” said Burt on Friday, June 2. “That’s style.”

Mayor Lester Taylor came to the CTS Toast Off to acknowledge HelpJaMM’s donations and to wish the members of the Class of 2017 well on one of the biggest nights of their young lives. But his ideas of style differed radically from the youngsters’ ideas, though he said he admired their bold fashion choices for the evening.

“It’s a phenomenal day and the young people look elegant, as they’re assembling here this afternoon for their Toast Off. We have the juniors that put together this spread behind me, we have the band here and they’re going to send them off in style and I hope that they have a real safe, enjoyable and memorable evening celebrating their senior prom,” Taylor said at the event.

The occasion was made all the more memorable, thanks to HelpJaMM, the mayor said.

“We couldn’t be more thankful to them and for them for making this night special for young people,” he said, adding, “It’s an awesome, awesome opportunity to see them. Some of the jackets by young brothers I probably wouldn’t wear, but I guess I’m old. But it’s an awesome, awesome day, to get to see young people in an urban community get to enjoy a memorable night that they will probably remember for the rest of their lives. It’s an awesome thing.”

HelpJaMM’s next scheduled event is the Black & White Boat Ride on Saturday, June 24. To purchase tickets for the charity fundraising event, call 201-953-0044 or visit www.helpjamicamission.com.

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