MOUNT GILEAD — Esther’s Dream could be, and can be, every girl’s dream.
Esther’s Dream, through The United Way of Morrow County, provides new and gently-used prom and homecoming dresses, shoes, accessories and new make-up to anyone —free of charge.
The program, already in its eighth year, is available on the second floor of Mount Gilead schools’ administration building located at 145 Cherry St.
Prom isn’t far away so girls have already been visiting the boutique, including a recent visit from students of The Tomorrow Center. They enjoyed a recent outing, selecting dress and accessories, and then stopping at Pizza Hut for lunch.
The Tomorrow Center, located in Cardington, is an open enrollment school serving trauma sensitive students in grades 8-12. Peggy Hubschman, a success coach at the school, said they serve students from a number of counties, including Marion, Morrow, Crawford and Delaware.
“I do a lot with getting them to graduation. I keep a success plan for the students.”
This year’s theme for The Tomorrow Center prom is “Midnight Garden.”
“It’s so out of their comfort zone to dress up and come to a dinner,” Hubschman said.
Erica Riley emphasized that point.
“I’m not a dress person so this is different,” Riley said, wear a satiny black gown. “It’s way out of my comfort zone. Normally I’m in sweat pants, tennis shoes or slides,” she added.
There are over 400 dresses available through Esther’s Dream, which is an acronym for “Every girl Should Truly Have an Evening to Remember.”
“Last year Esther’s Dream gave away over 1,000 dresses to area high school students so they could attend homecoming and prom dances. Currently there are approximately 2,000 new or gently used dresses as well as shoes and accessories,” Volunteer Megan Rockas said in an email.
An entire room is dedicated to long gowns, another to short formal dresses, and there are racks of shoes and a large collection of jewelry. Hoever, because make-up must be new, there is a short supply.
“We feel like a real department store,” said Jodi Hayes of the Morrow County United Way, who founded the program.
The boutique has a volunteer sign-up list and volunteers operate “store” hours and tag the dresses and arrange displays. Dresses aren’t just available for students. Hayes said anyone is welcome to borrow a dress for dances, weddings, and even cruises.
“The boutique is open all year by appointment,” Hayes noted. During prom time Esther’s Dream is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30-7:30 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. till noon.
“Anybody, anywhere is welcome. This literally has all become possible by donations,” she added.
There are about 100 students attending the prom which will feature a DJ after the dinner.
COVID took a toll on the school, which had an approximate 68 percent success rate prior to the pandemic. Hubschman said some students didn’t want to return to school after the school closed classes due to COVID.
Esther’s Dream is located at 145 N. Cherry Street in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, the Mount Gilead Board of Education Building.
For any questions about Esther’s Dream, or to make a donation, contact Jodi Hayes at 419-946-2053.