4/11/15: Spring Means Prom Dresses to JATC

For some people, daffodils popping out in woods and gardens and forsythia bursting forth from dormant branches are the first signs of spring.  For the members of Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC) being with a group of high school seniors looking for the perfect prom dress is a sure sign that the seasons are about to turn. 

 At the end of winter, JATC members convert their meeting space to dressing rooms and display areas for dresses, accessories, shoes and make-up.  JA volunteers collect dresses and accessories year-round for this weekend event at which girls who would otherwise not be able to take part in their prom can say ”yes to a dress”.  Because the weather was still wintry, this year’s event stretched over two weekends in February and March on a sunny Friday and Saturday separated by snow and ice. 

 Prom Dresses to choose from.

Prom Dresses to choose from.

 Nearly 30 young women, referred by their high school counselors and accompanied by mothers, grandmothers, siblings and friends, tried on dresses in all styles, colors and sizes.   25 JA volunteers participated in the two-day event, providing refreshments, helping to select dresses, assisting with zippers, offering encouragement, suggesting accessories and applauding choices.  Many girls would not be able to attend the prom if not for the dress and other items provided by JATC.  One girl’s comment summed up the feelings of many, “It‘s amazing to be able to have a beautiful prom dress to wear.  I love my dress! Thank you all so much.”

 High school senior Ally Swift in her new prom dress.

High school senior Ally Swift in her new prom dress.

 Madison Copper models her new dress.

Madison Copper models her new dress.

 The Prom Dress Project is one of many service projects that JATC members provide to the community.  Others include School Supplies in January; Santa’s Gift House; College Readiness programs and scholarships; Tender Critters for children in hospital; Journey, a mentoring project for young women; support for the Women’s Crisis Center, in which they provide home improvement and monetary support for one of the cottages; and Homework Helpers, in which they provide snacks, enrichment programs, reading and homework help for children who live in extended-stay hotels/motels.

 Members raise money for these projects through one major event - a fun Trivia Challenge with dinner, live entertainment, a raffle and a Silent Auction.  This year the 15th Annual Trivia Challenge and Silent Auction was held at the Radisson Hotel in Branson on March 28th, 2015.  Nearly $20,000 was raised, all of which is reinvested in our community.  Check out the Junior Auxiliary website (jatcmo.org) for more information on projects, fundraising and “In The News”.

 JATC is more than a nonprofit organization, it’s a group of women united by a single cause and dedicated to helping the children of Taney County.  That’s the magic of JATC.  It was chartered by a group of caring, enthusiastic women in 1998 and continues to grow and thrive throughout Taney County.  Approximately 50 members annually contribute more than 4,000 volunteer hours and thousands of dollars as they strive to improve the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of children in Taney County.

 JATC is part of the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA), a non-profit organization founded in 1941 with headquarters in Greenville, Mississippi.  NAJA has more than 15,500 active, associate and life members in 98 chapters located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.  Their slogan is “Care Today-Character Tomorrow”.

 More information on JATC can be found on the Junior Auxiliary website JATCMO.ORG, their Facebook page, Junior Auxiliary of Taney County or via email at jatcmo@gmail.com.

Published: Branson Daily Independent, April 11, 2015; Branson Tri-Lakes News, April 29, 2015