Jeremy Nardella, 19, a client at the Trudeau Center, was looking forward to taking his friend Michela Lombari, 16, to his senior prom at Cranston West High School this year but realized they wouldn’t be able to go because Lombari has a wedding to attend that evening.
At first, they were disappointed. Then, Nardella heard about Trudeau’s second annual prom, “A Night to Remember,” which they plan to attend tomorrow night at the Larkin Recreation Building in Warwick at 6.
Nardella and Lombari, who became good friends about three years ago after meeting through the children’s recreational program at Trudeau, each said the same thing about the upcoming event: They can’t wait to dance with friends.
They’re also looking forward to primping for the prom, as they won gift certificates to have their hair styled at Salon Lux, a Cranston salon that for the second year donated eight certificates to Trudeau Center for the prom. Salon packages include hair and nails for males and females, as well as makeup for the ladies. Earlier this month, Trudeau raffled off certificates to the lucky winners.
“I want to put curls in my hair and then put it up,” said Lombari, a Pilgrim High School student.
While Nardella plans to don a tuxedo, Lombari will wear a maroon gown. Sarah High, 18, a student at North Kingstown High School who has been a Trudeau client since she was a young child, described her dress in detail.
“It’s pink and it has bling on top,” she said, also pointing out that it has a “mermaid-style” bottom. “And I’m wearing a crown.”
Caitlyn Blaine, another Trudeau client, said her dress has some bling, too.
“It’s purple with sparkles,” Blaine said.
The girls, who are each going with friends, also said they can’t wait to dance. High hopes to hear some of her favorite songs by Taylor Swift and “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.
Lisa Pellegrino, the activities coordinator for the children’s recreation program at Trudeau, took note of High’s requests, as she will be the DJ the night of the prom. When Pellegrino asked clients if they wanted to hear “The Chicken Dance,” High got excited. She also told Pellegrino she would like to hear “Cotton Eyed-Joe.”
Nardella also offered a suggestion.
“The Electric Slide,” he said.
“That’s fun,” High said. “We’re going to eat [and] dance. It’s better than the school prom.”
High’s pass worker, Jackie Landry, said one of the reasons that High prefers the Trudeau prom is because the music at the school is too loud. Generally, High feels more at ease at the Trudeau dance.
“Here, she feels comfortable and safe because she knows all the workers and kids,” Landry said. “She feels comfortable to be herself.”
Lombari’s mother, Marion Menzies, agrees. She praised Trudeau for organizing not only the prom, but also a variety of social activities for her daughter. Lombari regularly checks the program’s calendar of events, and is always eager when a new calendar is posted.
“She tends to be shy in new situations, but participating in the rec program has brought her out of her shell so much,” said Menzies. “The prom is just another way for her to be able to socialize and interact in an environment that’s very safe and secure.”
Dawn Blain, Caitlyn’s mother, said the same of her daughter.
“Every morning, Catie says, ‘When are we going to Trudeau?’” Blain said. “It means a lot because she gets to do what the regular kids do. She doesn’t get picked on because their love is unconditional. To see the smile on her face is priceless.”
Nardella’s grandmother, Lucille Gavin, also spoke highly of Trudeau. She is grateful of the positive impact it’s had on his life.
“What they are doing is really good because Jeremy gets left out on a lot of things,” she said. “His home base is here, where he’s got a lot of friends and people he can associate with. He loves all the activities.”
Melissa Criscione, Nardella’s pass worker, added, “It’s a great thing. The kids are all excited about the prom.”
At least 60 people signed up to attend. Pellegrino, along with Mike Sherman, the children’s recreation coordinator at Trudeau, are thankful that many local companies made contributions to make the event a success, such as Atomic Catering.
“They gave us a nice deal,” Sherman said.
The menu includes a selection of hot appetizers, plus a variety of fresh fruit with cheese and crackers, salad, rice pilaf, vegetable medley, chicken, penne, mini-meatballs with marinara sauce, and eggplant Parmesan.
And for dessert? Cake and cookies from Pastiche, a bakery in Providence that graciously gave Trudeau a 50-percent discount after the order was placed.
Pellegrino and Sherman are also grateful to DiSanto, Priest & Co., a local accounting firm, as they donated $1,000 toward the event. Staffers even donated their own money and brought in a few dresses for the Trudeau “prom shop,” a mock store for clients to select garments and accessories.
The list of contributions goes on. Generous sponsors, including The Bentley Foundation; Bank RI; Mr. & Mrs. Francis Brown; Kathleen Wiggins; Thomas Laders; Sue Christensen; and Jill Parker, helped make the event possible.
Professional photographer Keri Comeroski is donating her time to take formal photos. Also, children will have unlimited access to a photo booth for three hours, as Pellegrino saw a coupon online for 70 percent off the price of the booth. She was hesitant to book it because it cost $500, and hoping to save a little cash, she sent the company an e-mail. To her delight, they granted her a discount.
“It ended up being $200, which is incredible,” Pellegrino said. “The kids are going to have such a blast with that.”