March 7, 2009

Making every girl the Belle of the Ball

Volunteer Bethany Berning kept the gowns organized

Story and photos
By Linda Peterson

Prom is still a few months away and teenage girls dream about it and plan every detail well in advance. Friday night, the 4th annual Belle of the Ball Boutique began helping many young women select that perfect dress, accessories, makeup and hairstyle to transform them into visions of loveliness. The full-service boutique provides a personal shopper, consultants, and alterations, and every volunteer hopes that every shopper leaves holding a free dress and wearing a big smile.

Hundreds of sparkling dresses, sorted by size, and glistening with elegance lined the racks as the first shoppers entered the Racine Room at St. Luke's Health Pavilion and were treated like royalty. Dance music set the mood and "fairy godmothers" (personal shoppers) bustled around tending to their clients' every need. As they emerged from the dressing rooms, the Cinderellas gazed at their gowns in one of two large looking glasses propped against a wall.

Once the gown was selected, it was time to choose accessories, from shoes and purses to jewelry and hair adornments. Consultants on the other side of the room advised clients on makeup colors and application, and choosing an elegant hairdo.

A diligent crew of seamstresses worked feverishly to make alterations/repairs and steam out wrinkles, while the shoppers completed their Belle of the Ball experience.

Belle of the Ball Boutique is a program run independently by community members and sponsored by the YWCA. The website is

Brittany Garard-Posnanski and Heather Fiore glowed with excitement
in their dazzling floor-length gowns

Heather Fiore regards her dreamy dress in the mirror

Volunteer consultant Brenda Abbott and Samantha Neubauer
look over purse and shoes

Volunteer Kathleen Baker shows Robin Garard how to style Heather Fiore's hair
while daughter Brittany watches

Sisters Samantha and Nicole Neubauer explore makeup options
with volunteer consultant Pamela Koonz

Seamstress Pat Sautner skillfully stitches a black gown.
"I consider my talent a gift from God and I like to use it to help people."


  1. What an amazing event to have for Racine girls. Thank you, thank you to the organizers, volunteers, and everyone who made a donation/contribution! Real-life fairy godmothers!

  2. What a great idea for used prom, formal and bridesmaid dresses!

    I am so happy that Racine has an event like this to help girls out.

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