Having gone through a series of unfortunate setbacks at a very young age in my life, I always had a dream that I would use these experiences to make a difference in people’s lives. At the time, I did not know how I would accomplish this feat. At the time, I did not know that by 2018 I would’ve impacted 286 high school student’s lives. At the time, I did not know that my charity would have instilled confidence and a sense of belonging in kids who faced such similar struggles to my own.
A major asset to the Giving the Glam effort is due in part to the METCO program. Founded in 1966, the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity is the longest continuously running voluntary school desegregation program in the country and a national model for other such programs. In 2014, I approached one of the METCO directors of my town to tell her that if I could ever be of any service to her program I’d be more than willing to help. Nine days later she introduced me to this beautiful young girl that needed help for prom. Given my history in the fashion industry, I saw a perfect opportunity to use my professional skills to give back. I quickly put together a team of kind hearted individuals which included a hairstylist, makeup artist, as well as a photographer and we made Kimberly’s prom a special day that she will always remember. As she herself said, “it was a magical day. I felt and looked like a princess on my prom night”. I had never imagined that in the coming years this one small gesture would expand into a full blown organization with participation increasing from 20 students the first year to 130 students this year in 2018.
This year Giving the Glam is helping 19 schools around all Massachusetts.
In helping these 286 kids through the years, I witnessed firsthand what these young teens and parents are going through in their everyday lives. From lost jobs, to struggles with disabilities and even staggering medical bills, many families simply cannot afford to have their children go to prom due to no fault of their own. Finances and disabilities should simply not be a reason for children to be excluded from such a rite of passage in their high school communities. These kids often struggle with social life, being so bullied throughout high school that some begin to question whether they belong in this world anymore. Many of our program participants work long hours after school to supplement their family income, and so attending prom is simply out of the question.
Giving the glam was created to give kids from all racial and ethnic backgrounds an opportunity to feel special, confident in themselves, and included in their communities. We are a big believers in that if we all do our part to make a difference, this world will be a much better place for all of us. We give these kids courage to continue fighting even when life is not so fair to you. There is no reason for anyone to believe that nobody cares for them. Our ultimate goal is to inspire these kids to succeed and to show them that the notion of “pay it forward” is incredibly important for everyone to live in a better world. To all of you that are reading this, please help our foundation continue to impact these kids’ lives. Any dollar amount is welcome and will make a huge difference to us. We want to continue our mission to spread inclusivity, build self-esteem, and prepare these kids for the real world as they reap a better understanding of themselves and their potential.
Thank you so much for your support.
Maristela Rapo, Founder of the Giving the Glam.