One of the events that our volunteers and staff look forward to putting on each year is our YoungLives Prom! Several of the teen parents attend continuation school so they do not have the opportunity to participate in a prom or they attend traditional high school and childcare and finances can get in the way. Since the inception of our area we have been able to provide the teen parents with a special prom night. It is always a family affair for the teenage parents and their children. They show up with baby, diaper bag, and matching outfits not knowing what they are about to experience.
As we planned for our 5th annual prom, we were in search of a venue that would offer a good space for fun and dancing and a space to offer childcare in a central location. We ended up finding Halecrest Park and Tennis Club and it ended up being a perfect fit! They were very accommodating and set-up went for all of our volunteers and vendors. I love how for events like this so many different individuals, groups, and churches come together to make the evening possible. Having others join us in bringing the vision to fruition is one way that I see God’s love on display. Not only His love for me, but for the teen moms and dads that we minister to.
The preparation for this day started months ago. I think the women’s group from Mariners Church HB starting thinking about decorations back in February! They showed up at 1pm to string lights, decorate the tables and deck the entire space out for our “Disney Ball” (the theme that the teens voted for). Jim West of the Barnabas Group OC hired Richard Boufford of Just Good Fun to cook us a phenomenal meal. He made paella and a crème brûlée type of dessert for us!
The teen parents were driven to prom by our volunteers and first had to drop of their children at the childcare room we had set up. From there they were given a golf cart ride across the field and were greeted by live music in the venue, beautiful decorations, and the scent of Rick’s Paella cooking on the outdoor patio. I loved seeing the joy on their faces throughout the evening. One mom was especially excited about this night as it was her senior year and she would be coming with her boyfriend who is a Marine. She wore a beautiful sequined dress and he came in uniform. As they rode on the back of the golf cart people honked and waved to them. For a moment I hope they felt the like royalty. I have to believe that this moment and the rest of the night was meant to be a glimpse of how Jesus loves them and views them. No matter where they have been and what they have done, Jesus laid down His life for them, just like for you and me. He sees them in their brokenness, in their exhaustion as they juggle school, parenting, a relationship and the usual drama that comes with being a teenager.
I love all of the friends and vendors that come out to put on this event. They give of their time and talents to make it an extra special night. Two of them in particular have been with us for 5 years now! Luke Sensebe of Premiere Events has been our DJ and provided sound/lighting to set the tone of the night and Chloe Atnip has set-up a photobooth at not only prom but several times a year! Both of these are really great because they help create lasting memories for all of us! This year we also had Tony J. Matos join us as a photographer and it was awesome to see how he captured the night.
This year’s prom felt like the best one yet. The teens danced the night away, got their pictures taken in the photo booth, enjoyed a delicious meal, socialized with each other and their mentors, received awards, and were encouraged to take Christ with them as they enter into the upcoming season. I am so grateful for each and every friend, partner and vendor that helped make this evening possible.