Flipping through a Marie Claire magazine one day, Bee Nguyen read an article about local organizations providing prom dresses to high school girls from disadvantaged families. Bee, whose mother made her long black and blue prom dress many years ago, thought to herself, “Atlanta needs an organization like that,” and then she went on to start one.
Athena’s Warehouse, which Bee started in 2009, not only provides prom dresses to high school girls in Atlanta (dresses are donated by Atlantans, and the girls complete three hours of community service before receiving a dress), the organization also provides programs focused on empowerment and building self-esteem.
“Women are inundated with the idea of being a princess and that someone – a prince – will come save them,” said Bee, who grew up in Augusta with four sisters. “It’s important for women, especially young women, to feel that they have personal power – to believe that they have the power to achieve and change things on their own.”
Athena’s Warehouse workshops are taught at Cross Keys High School, a Dekalb County School, where faculty sponsor Diane Gluck has been an important part of the organization’s work with students. Led by professionals who dontate their time, workshops focus on topics such as exercise and confidence, healthy eating, sex education and careers. Many of the girls are second generation immigrants, who face unique challenges of being a minority and often struggle to envision further education or a career for themselves.
“I don’t feel like I grew up wanting, but I was aware of the struggle my parents went through. They immigrated to the United States in 1979 and sacrificed so that their kids could succeed,” said Bee, a graduate of Georgia State University, who works full-time in public relations for the Georgia Budget Policy Institute. “I relate to many of the girls whose families have immigrated here. I can relate to some of the issues they struggle with and have a soft spot for the challenges they face.”
Like Athena’s Warehouse on Facebook to learn about upcoming events or contact the organization to find out about opportunities to volunteer or provide financial support.
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