Operation PROMises Delivers on Dresses

More than 40 teenagers from schools in Northern Solano County turned to Operation PROMises to make their dreams come true Saturday, March 11.

At the day’s end, more than 40 “princesses” went home with the perfect prom dress. Many also found a matching pair of shoes, a clutch, a wrap and jewelry. And it was all free, thanks to a partnership between NorthBay Healthcare and Soroptimist International of Vacaville.

It is the fourth year the nonprofits have partnered on the project, along with the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, which helped get the word out among all the high schools in Northern Solano County, delivering invitations to administrators and counselors, who in turn shared them with girls who could not otherwise afford to attend their proms.

The conference room was a frenzy of activity, as girls arrived for appointments throughout the day and were partnered with a personal shopper to help them navigate from station to station.

Justine Zilliken, NorthBay Healthcare Assistant Vice President of Specialty Care, was one of several enthusiastic personal shoppers paired with a “princess.”

“Are you ready to have some fun?” she asked, greeting her first charge of the day with a big hug.

Hugs, in fact, were plentiful during the day, as girls were pampered through the process. They received makeup and hair tips from Blake Austin College students, and had a chance to select jewelry and nail polish to match their outfits.

A team of seamstresses were busy making alterations while the girls waited.

Former NorthBay Healthcare employee Jessica Johnson came back to coordinate the effort with Lou Lopez, interim director of Volunteer Services.

“I know how important this event is to girls,” said Jessica. “Prom is an important part of a girl’s upbringing. We wanted to give all the girls a chance to be a princess for a day, and to get their glass slipper that goes with their ball gown,” she said.

Soroptimist Desiree Ramos served as emcee for the event for the second year in a row, noting that Operation PROMises perfectly aligns with the mission of Soroptimists, which is to improve the lives of women and girls.

“I think we get as much out of this as the girls do,” she said with a smile. “It’s magical.”