Sacramento nonprofit will bring its Prom Dress Giveaway to J.J. Cairns Continuation School in Lindsay
LINDSAY – Ramona Caudillo hasn’t gone to a high school dance in over 50 years but she’s spent the last three months planning for this year’s senior prom.
That’s when she reached out to her former contacts in the arts and entertainment industry to bring a Sacramento based nonprofit to her new home in Lindsay to giveaway hundreds of prom and graduation dresses to high school girls in Tulare County.
“I grew up with six siblings in my family so we didn’t get to try on prom dresses,” Caudillo said. “And now they are $200 or more. Large families just can’t afford that.”
The Vida de Oro Foundation will be bringing over 1000 new dresses to give away from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22 at John J Cairns Continuation School, 290 Harvard Ave. The Sacramento nonprofit is a collective of artists, performers, and writers that share a common goal to help individuals achieve their dreams in the arts. They hold public events and activities in Northern California and the Central Valley to highlight the arts, food, cultures, and qualities of disadvantaged communities. The prom dress giveaway was launched in 2019 when the Foundation received over 700 new prom dresses from Lulus.com, an online dress retailer specializing in formal dresses. Last year the Foundation gave away over 500 dresses to students representing 73 different schools from Sacramento, Fresno, Oakland, and Corning, Calif. This year they were gifted over 3,000 dresses and plan to hold give-away events in different parts of Northern California and the Central Valley, including Lindsay.
“This event creates an opportunity for students to participate in a very important passage of life, attending their Prom,” said Mina Perez, President/CEO of the Vida de Oro Foundation. “We know the struggles that many parents currently face in making ends meet, as a result some students don’t get a chance to attend their prom, which can affect them the rest of their lives, so our intent is to make a difference.”
The event is being held in collaboration with U-Haul, the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce and BLVD Memories Magazine, an organization led by actor Richard Yniguez, star of the 1979 movie Boulevard Nights that captured Chicano culture in East Los Angeles. Caudillo spent most of her career in the Los Angeles area managing actors. After retiring in 2005, Caudillo moved Lindsay to be closer to family last year. Caudillo said Perez reached out to her to hire some of the actors involved in the magazine a few years ago and she started talking about Lindsay. Their conversation eventually led to this month’s dress give away.
“I do a lot of business with a lot of nonprofits across the state and I wanted to use my connections to build up this town,” Caudillo said.
On Sept. 7, Caudillo organized the showing of Boulevard Nights at the Lindsay Community Theater in honor of the film’s 40th anniversary featuring members of the original cast. The event was so well received, she decided to plan more events to bring more people to town. The dress giveaway is open to any high school student in Tulare County and the surrounding area but Caudillo said each student must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
“I firmly believe the Prom is an American Tradition that all high school students should experience,” Perez said.