Deserving Lincoln High Schoolers Receive ‘The Prom Experience’

By Edward Henderson

Film and television often depict prom night as one of magic, promise and memories that build a beautiful home in your mind forever. However, life’s circumstances can prevent youth from ever getting a chance to fully experience the comfort these memories can provide, simply because they cannot afford to attend. Luckily, there are organizations and corporate sponsors in the City of San Diego who are more than willing to lend a helping hand.

On Saturday, June 3rd, Amir Alliance for Success, Extended Hands Worldwide Ministries and JC Penney partnered to provide nine deserving Lincoln High School students with a ‘Prom Experience’ they’ll always remember.

The students received free dresses and suits of their selection from JC Penney, a personal glam squad that did hair and makeup for the girls, boys received free haircuts, and a VIP lounge at prom which included food and a personal photo shoot.

“You never know what opportunities you have unless you go after them,” said Dalesean Lynch, founder of Amir Alliance for Success. “The partnership we were able to come together on was amazing. It’s easy to think that these big corporations don’t give back, but they really do.”

Lynch, inspired by his family’s struggles as a youth surrounding prom, came up with the idea to make a difference in other teen’s lives so they wouldn’t have to experience what he did. As one of nine children to a single mother, there simply wasn’t enough money in the household to pay for his senior events and get family out to graduation as well. Lynch reached out to Cassandra Foster of Extended Hands and they formulated a plan to bring the idea to life. Foster had a connection at JC Penney in Shereese Whittington and the collaboration was born.

Students who received the ‘Prom Experience’ were selected by submitting essays describing their struggles and why they could benefit from having the experience.

“The letters just touch your heart, but what moves it is when you see the manifestation of them being blessed,” said Foster. “Seeing the transformation of the smile in the VIP room and them taking pictures was a phenomenal prom experience we will never forget as well.”

“Coming from foster care myself, I wanted to give back to youth in the system,” said Whittington. “I was able to get sister stores in the area to join me and offer dresses and suits to young men and women who couldn’t afford to buy them. It was such a moment, that you walked away feeling like ‘I just made an impact, I just did something they will remember for the rest of their lives.’”

The evening was such a success, Lynch plans to make this an annual event.

“We have to inspire our kids to give back, be leaders and role models,” said Lynch. “If you give them the tools today, they can be the leaders for tomorrow. We didn’t give them a hand out, we gave them a hand up.”

 

 

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