Last week, we connected with Katonah resident and Community Center of Northern Westchester volunteer Allison Shure. Allison has lived in Katonah for about two years and been a volunteer at the Community Center for just over a year. 

Over the past two years, the CCNW has been unable to hold its beloved annual prom drive for high school juniors and seniors, but this year the drive is back…and it’s better than ever for several reasons.  Most importantly, they’ve extended the magic of prom to teens in need all over Northern Westchester, rather than just their clients.

Katonah Connect: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Allison Shure: It’s been slightly over a year since I started volunteering at the Community Center. I lived in New York City before, but I moved to Katonah at the start of the pandemic. 

KC: Where did the idea for the prom drive start? 

AS: The prom drive began several years before the pandemic, so I’m not the brains behind it. But for the past two years, because of COVID, we collected dresses as they came in, and kept them in storage. We’ve been hoping for the day to have an actual use for them again. We’re very, very excited to get this back in action this year! 

KC: What’s different this year?

AS: Previously, we offered dresses to our clients only once or twice by using a local retail store for a couple of nights.Everyone would be invited on those nights. But this year, we decided to do more of a pop-up that’s an ongoing event so kids can come in for months, by appointment only.

KC: Where is the pop-up?

AS: It’s at 43 Katonah Avenue, so it’s really easy to access from the train station. Literally. A one-minute walk. The very kind owner of the building, Bruce Niles, let us use his space this year. He was very generous to let us hold the pop-up there – thank god for him! 

KC: What items do you accept?

AS: We’re taking, of course, short and long dresses, the usual. Also, handbags, jewelry and new makeup, too. We have a full section for the men where we’re taking suits, ties and shoes as well. 

KC: What items don’t you take?

AS: Honestly, we pretty much take it all. We haven’t gotten much that we couldn’t take so far.  

KC: Have any really nice items come in?

AS: We definitely have a lot of brand new dresses, probably from canceled proms, and the girls never had the opportunity to wear them. 

KC: Anything a bit older?

AS: Yes! We have some really cool vintage dresses. Some that even seem like they’re from the 1920s or 70s. There are some very full skirts too, which just feels like a trip back to the 60s.

KC: Speaking of a trip back in time, could my mom donate her old prom dress?

AS: Oh yeah, for sure. Listen, there are a lot of dresses here that remind me of something I might have worn to some sort of black-tie event, even as an adult. Really any elegant wear is beautiful, no matter what crazy decade it come from.

KC: If you could create a prom theme, what would it be? 

AS:   Given everything that’s going on the world, I would want the prom theme to be one big celebration, nothing too wacky. Probably something international that would bring us all together. It’s a small world.

KC: Like the Disney ride?                          

AS: Exactly!

KC: What’s your advice for people going to the prom this spring?

AS: Finding your own look – one that really feels like you. Don’t just pick what your friends are wearing, pick something that really lets you be yourself. That’s how you’re going to feel your best. It’s all about individuality. I also think prom season is a really great chance for seniors, especially, to recognize where they are in life, and that they’ve made it through that long twelve years of school. They’re about to go out in the world, and prom is an amazing way to celebrate that…even if it’s super scary!

To drop off dresses or menswear, bring your items to the Community Center of Northern Westchester during normal business hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

If you or someone you know is in need of a prom dress or menswear, please contact the Community Center at 914-232-6572.