Members of the Children’s Recreational Program at the Trudeau Center are in all their glory this week, as they polish their dancing shoes and get ready to don glamorous gowns or snazzy suits for their first ever prom.
“I feel happy and I can’t wait to wear my dress and dance,” said Caitlyn Blain, 18, an eleventh grader at Toll Gate. “I like my earrings, too.”
The Trudeau Center, which is located at 3445 Post Road, is a non-profit organization that aims to promote an enhanced quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities. For Blain’s mother, Dawn, the Center is reaching their goal with flying colors.
In fact, Dawn said she is pleased with the Center not only because they offer entertaining social activities for her daughter, but also because staff members planned the prom and donated most of the garments clients will be wearing to the event, including Caitlyn’s floor-length gown.
“Trudeau is an amazing thing because it gives these kids the opportunity to do the things normal kids do,” Dawn said. “Now that she’s at Trudeau, she has friends and she’s more outgoing. She talks about going to the prom every day.”
To help make the experience more meaningful for clients, as well as their parents, Trudeau staff members recently set up a room within the Center that resembled a clothing store, complete with more than 100 donated dresses, plus shoes, slacks, suit jackets and shirts, even accessories. Then, they invited clients and their families into the “store” so they could choose proper prom attire at no cost.
“It was really neat,” Dawn said. “Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces was just incredible. Even the boys were into it. I cried because I’m a single mom and I wouldn’t have been able to do this. She wouldn’t have been able to go.”
Further, local businesses, such as Atomic Catering; Gregg’s Restaurant; West Valley Inn; Pastiche; Roba Dolce; Elizabeth of Portofino; Salon Lux; Swarovski; Zoots Dry Cleaning; and Greenwood Flower & Garden, made donations to help make the prom an enchanted evening for guests.
“I think it’s amazing that all these companies came together to give these kids a good night,” Dawn said. “The way the economy is right now, people can’t afford to do things for their kids. Thank God there are people who want to give back.”
She continued to praise Trudeau staff, especially the prom planning committee, which consisted of Sandy Brown, a direct support worker who came up with the idea for the event; Alicia Fontes, a Home Based Children Services (HBCS) administrator who helped create the “Prom Shop;” Roberta Ryan, the director of HBCS; Christy Rondeau, also of HBCS; as well as Lisa Pellegrino, the Center’s activities coordinator; and Mike Sherman, the Children’s Recreation coordinator.
Sherman, who has worked at the Center for more than seven years, said it’s a treat to witness the clients enjoying themselves.
“It’s cool to see them get all dressed up,” he said last week during a brief phone interview. “We wanted a safe place where they could go to experience a prom. It’s a right of passage for everybody.”
Additionally, Trudeau staff will be helping clients style their hair and paint their nails the evening of prom, which will begin at 7 and wrap up at 9:30 p.m. at the Larkin Recreation Building. So far, nearly 50 clients have signed up to attend.
“As a mother of a special needs child, I never thought she would ever go to a prom,” Dawn said. “It makes me want to cry because I’m so happy.”
The prom is $15 per client. Each client is allowed to bring a date or chaperone for no cost. Funds accumulated go toward scholarships for the semi-annual new frontier adventures program.
Editor’s Note: The Warwick Beacon would like to give special thanks to the florist department at Stop & Shop at 2470 Warwick Avenue for putting a rush order on the flowers Caitlyn holds in the photos.