"Hey, did somebody order a limo?" yelled JoAnne Morak, Community Action Partnership's Mentoring Program Coordinator, into a room full of girls halfway through an evening of manicures, mini-facials and hair styling sessions.
The low murmur of sound swells to a roar as everyone abandons their pampering stations and rushes to the front of the Oneida ARC's Winoa Hall. Over the din, mentors and staff can hear cries of "Oh my gosh!" and "It's like we're famous!" as a black limousine at the end of a long, red carpet comes into view outside.
All this was part of the agency's annual "Girls Night Out" event Aug. 25, and limousine rides were only one of many ways the Mentoring Program sent its young ladies back to school with confidence and style.
To kick off the evening, participants and their mentors presented a back-to-school fashion show. Mentees modeled outfits they picked out at local thrift stores, showing that style doesn't have to be expensive. The most expensive outfit was a mere $12. After the fashion show, the girls participated in a hands-on self-esteem workshop and a presentation on skin health and care before beginning an evening of pampering.
Local professionals provided hair styling, mini-facials and manicures. Participants munched on healthy snacks in between pampering stations. And the surprise limousine was well stocked with Hershey's Kisses, what's pampering without a little chocolate? Each girl received star treatment on rides through Oneida. Every girl left with a goodie bag, school supplies and a big smile.
"We love this event because we get to send the girls home not only with goodie bags and school supplies, but also with confidence and excitement for the new school year," said Mentoring Program Coordinator JoAnne Morak. "We want this event to teach the girls to approach new experiences with enthusiasm, and to show the girls that when you treat yourself well and believe in yourself, changes like a new school year, new teachers and new friends can be fun and rewarding."
Community Action Partnership's Mentoring Program serves approximately 40 Madison County youth each year, and is funded in part by the Madison County Youth Bureau, United Way of Greater Oneida, Madison County Promise, Madison County Department of Social Services, and the Women's Fund of Central New York. If you would like to become a Mentor to a Madison County youth, call JoAnne Morak at 697-3588.