Beth and Danielle Lutz organize the donated prom dresses.
Beth and Danielle Lutz organize the donated prom dresses.

Teen and her mom start nonprofit to provide prom dresses for teens who can’t afford them.

Driven by a desire to give back, 16-year-old Danielle Lutz and her mother, Beth, are intent on changing the world, one dress at a time.

After she volunteered with a California nonprofit that provides free prom dresses and accessories to girls who can’t afford them, Danielle, a junior at Birmingham’s Groves High School, thought the concept could benefit girls who attend Detroit Public Schools.

“I thought the idea was so interesting that I wanted to do it locally,” said the younger Lutz, whose family are members of Temple Beth El. “Prom is a huge thing in Detroit, so my mom and I began looking for ways to get dresses donated for girls who can’t buy one on their own.”

Since Danielle recruited her mother to help launch her initiative, the mother-daughter pair established the nonprofit Rewearable and found a partner in Remy Boulbol, the development director for the Detroit Public Schools Foundation.

The result is “Say Yes to the Prom Dress!” an event to help high school girls, who attend Detroit Public Schools, select a prom dress, jewelry, handbags and shoes. The event is from 4-7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at the Detroit School of the Arts, located at 123 Selden St.

“Remy really understood the need for this project. She knew how hard the girls were working to pay for their dresses,” Beth Lutz said. “Everyone is entitled to a special night. What teenager doesn’t want to have that?”

With March 22 just around the corner, the Lutzes are delighted with the response they’ve gotten from area business people.

“We’ve contacted local merchants, and I’ve reached out to people we knew. They’ve responded with everything from gift cards to dresses,” Beth Lutz said. “So far, we’ve received 300 dresses. This has been an incredible example of how generous people are.”

Because Detroit Public Schools is a district with a high poverty rate, the significance of a chance to dress up for a big night is something Boubol is quick to emphasize.

“We have between 25 and 40 percent of our 3,000 kids living below the poverty line, so we work very hard to make sure they have what they need in school. It’s almost impossible when it comes to anything extra,” Boubol said.

Beth and Danielle Lutz organize the donated prom dresses.
Beth and Danielle Lutz organize the donated prom dresses.

“To have something like this to look forward to in a different way, to have a day where they can say, ‘I’m going to be able to wear a great dress. I’m going to make sure my confidence is not a thing today,’ directly affects their performance in the classroom.”

Boulbol is already thinking about expanding the scope of “Say Yes to the Prom Dress!” by including boys who attend prom.

“We hope to do it again next year and include suits for boys who are going to prom,” Boubol said, adding, “Danielle and Beth have really found a way to pull the community together for this.”

The importance of community remains first and foremost in Danielle’s mind as she and her mother finalize the last-minute details for the March 22 endeavor.

“It means a lot to me to be able to give back because I hope if I needed it, the community would be there for me,” Danielle said. “It’s important to be aware, to stop and look at what is going on around you.”

To learn more about Rewearable or to donate, visit rewearable.net/donate.html.

Linda Laderman Special to the Jewish News