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NYer of the Week: Danielle Skeen's 'Star Boutique' Helps Transform Students on Prom Night and Beyond

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Finding the perfect prom dress is an expensive rite of passage for many high school teenagers, a search that doesn't come easily for everyone, and the latest New Yorker of the Week is trying to change that. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

They search through racks of gowns, hoping to find the one they can put on and say, "This is it." And these students, who live in city shelters, keep their prom dresses free of charge.

"When you don't have these things, the things that you need for graduation or prom, it's very nerve-wracking, because, you know, it's like, 'Where are you going to get it from?'" says Tee Emannuel, a participant in The Star Boutique.

So they turn to Danielle Skeen. She created "The Star Boutique," a charity driven pop-up shop that opens in various locations throughout the year. These teenagers receive donated dresses, shoes, makeup, and hairstyling tips.

"You hear things like, if a girl comes to a session and she would be happy if she left with just a pair of socks," Skeen says. "It really brings back the urgency that why this is necessary."

"My mother didn't have enough money," says Kyonah Gray, a participant in The Star Boutique. "I came here and picked out a beautiful dress today."

Prom dresses aren't the only things the girls walk out with. The Star Boutique works to instill self-esteem and confidence.

"We want to make sure that we get their minds right and they understand that you can leave with the best-looking clothes, but if you don't feel good on the inside, what we're doing today is not worth it," Skeen says.

"When I tried it on, it suited my character and it suited my personality. I had my hair done, my makeup done," said Destiny Price, a participant in The Star Boutique. "I had a fun time today because they made me feel like I'm special and that I'm loved."

It's a feeling all of these teens hopefully experience thanks to Danielle and her team of volunteers.

"They've been told they're fat. They've been told that they're ugly," Skeen says. "I think over time, these things build on them, and they start to think that's their identity, and we get to say to that, 'No, you get to choose who you are, and your say so is all that matters.'"

So, for helping to transform students on prom night and beyond, Danielle Skeen is the latest New Yorker of the Week.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information about The Star Boutique, visit the website at thestarboutique.org.

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