High school girls ‘say yes to the prom dress’

As a technical support specialist at Discovery Communications, Laneshia Ellis is no stranger to troubleshooting computer problems for her co-workers. It turns out she’s also pretty good at helping with fashion, after she picked out the right dress to make a high school girl’s prom dreams come true.

Ellis was a volunteer at a recent “Say Yes to the Prom” event at Discovery. The cable programmer brought 40 high school girls to its headquarters in Silver Spring to select from 800 dresses donated by employees and Women in Cable Telecommunications members. The girls had their pick of free shoes, accessories, undergarments, purses and scarves ,and got a beauty makeover from professional beauticians.

To add to the Hollywood experience, the media company tapped a celebrity from its TLC network, Monte Durham of “Say Yes to the Dress,” to host the event.

Each girl was partnered with an employee at Discovery who served as a dress shopper and mentor. Many said employees they plan to keep in touch with their girls as they prepare for their spring event.

“She’s been texting me every day since saying, ‘Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,’” said Ellis said of her student, Brianna Waters.

Discovery selected academically outstanding girls from Magruder High School in Rockville and girls from KidsPeace, a charity that serves children with behavioral and mental health needs.

“The things they learn from this event will stick with them because I believe firmly that what you learn in pleasure, you never forget,” Magruder Principal Lee Evans said.

Discovery, which doesn’t disclose community donation amounts, plans to donate any leftover dresses to DonateMyDress.org, an organization that gives formal dresses to girls in financial need.

Vendor sponsors included Terri Bergman Events, Chicka Event Production, Fox Ventures, Party Rental, Well Dunn, Fancy Cakes by Leslie, Spilled Milk Catering, Made by Barbara, DJ D-Mac and Associates, Style Salon, and Graham Webb Academy.

Vanessa Small covers philanthropy and nonprofits for Capital Business. She also spotlights newly appointed executives in the New at the Top column, which chronicles their journeys to the top. Small was raised in Orange County, Ca. and graduated from Howard University.
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