Lizette Etsebeth’s dream of becoming a ‘Fairy Godmother’ to high schoolers facing adversity came true this Sunday at Aldergrove Community Secondary School (ACSS).
The Fairy Godmother Foundation — which provides formal wear for high schoolers in need — provided 17 students from Langley high schools with prom wear including dresses, suits, shoes and other extravagant accessories at this year’s inaugural gala.
“Often times there’s no money for grad clothes because of all the other stuff thats going on in these teenagers’ lives,” Etsebeth explained.
Eleven girls and six boys were referred confidentially to the charity by their school counsellors.
“One student told me she felt like a princess,” Etsebeth said. “Her mother came with her and said the experience was like something out of a movie.”
According to Etsebeth, “there was not a dry eye in the room,” and throughout the course of the day “the generosity of the community humbled [her] beyond belief.”
When the students arrived at the ACSS small gym, they were assigned a fairy godmother to accompany them during the process of sifting through the racks for prom outfits.
Each student entered into a room full of volunteer-donated goods and dresses, including more than 450 gowns from generous former prom-goers in Langley.
“They each got a special bag. The girls had the opportunity to pick a dress, the boys a suit. The girls went on to look at shoes and browse jewelry, purses and shoes that complimented their outfits,” Etsebeth explained.
Three tables full of glittering jewelry were donated and set up for the teenagers to choose from.
The foundation’s team of more than 30 volunteers have been meeting for more than a year in preparation for the event.
The non-profit had three volunteer seamstresses that were able to help students achieve the perfect fit in their chosen prom garments that same day.
“The women worked utter magic for the kids,” Etsebeth said. The gala even had makeup artists, hair stylists and photographers volunteer to pamper and capture the teens in their glory.
“Just to see the transformation, the whole process from watching them to come in to the end product was amazing. A lot of them started out shy and nervous, unsure about what was going to happen but by the time they left they were just beaming,” Etsebeth said.
Etsebeth registered the Fairy Godmother Foundation as a B.C. non-profit in 2017.
After moving to Langley from South Africa, Etsebeth said her and her husband were not making a lot of money and were shocked at the expenses of having a graduating student.
“There are many families out there really struggling,” Etsebeth emphasized.
Last year, the foundation helped two girls in Surrey with their prom night transformations.
Etsebeth wanted to do more but was limited by a lack of storage space. Aldergrove Community Secondary School stepped up this year to provide space as well as volunteers to maximize their efforts.
“I’m still in awe of what we were able to pull off this year,” Etsebeth said.
There were refreshments offered, and personal care items for students to take home with them courtesy of the IDA owner in Aldergrove.
Discussions about next year’s event will begin again in September, as well as donations being accepted, as soon as school gears up.
“I will fight to keep doing what I am doing and provide for as many kids as I can for as long as I can,” Etsebeth said.
“I want graduating kids to be able to hold their heads up high.”