Helping Teen Girls Be ‘Bella’ For Their Prom

By Valerie Schmidt, President, The Bella Project

The Bella Project is a nonprofit organization that provides prom attire to low-income, special needs or critically ill high school girls who can’t afford or can’t attend prom. Formed in 2009, the intent was to reach low- to middle-income high school girls and provide them with a dress, a pair of shoes, makeup and accessories free of charge. The Bella Project currently reaches 350 high school girls annually.


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Valerie Schmidt

The typical high school girl who attends Bella Project giveaway events comes from a struggling family environment. The Bella Project does not ask for any financial records, only proof of attending high school or going for a GED. The goal is to reward girls for staying in school despite the hardships in their lives.

In 2013, The Bella Project helped Kapiolani Medical Center create its first prom. All the critically ill young women were fitted for their special dresses. It was exciting to have the girls wear something besides the typical hospital gown.

One girl was battling brain cancer. She was too small for our smallest dress. Her father was her date and he arrived in his military formals. He danced with her to the song Dance with my Father. Everyone cried. Her father thanked us for creating this special moment and said he didn’t think she would live to see her actual prom. Unfortunately, a few months ago, she passed away. The Bella Project will dedicate the 2014-2015 year to this young angel.

The Bella Project is having its next Dress Giveaway Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Central Union

Church parish hall. High school girls can sign up on a first-come, first-served basis. Go to, visit our Facebook page at, or email us at

We do take walk-ins, but it is best to have an appointment by signing up ahead of time.

To send a monetary donation, please visit our website: All dollars go directly to storage costs, replenishing items and supporting the cause. The Bella Project is run 100 percent by volunteers.

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