Teens to Dance at Prom, Thanks to Volunteers and Local Businesses

Aby at St. Mary's prom in 2015.

Aby at St. Mary’s prom in 2015.


NORFOLK, Va. (May 17, 2016) — Eighteen young people with disabilities who live at St. Mary’s Home will dress up on Sunday, May 22, to enjoy that typical teen rite of passage: prom. And they’re going to do it in style, with a downtown hotel generously donating ballroom space and several other businesses providing dresses, decorations, flowers, music and styling assistance at no charge.

St. Mary’s has put on prom on its campus every year since 2006. This Sunday’s prom will be the first held off campus, from 3-5 p.m. at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. VisitNorfolk, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, connected St. Mary’s with the hotel, which also offered to provide food plus space for the teens – eight girls and 10 boys – to primp for the big occasion.

“This is going to bring something special to prom that we haven’t had before,” said Nicole Hoskins Jones, St. Mary’s director of recreational therapy, which organizes prom.

The dance is a huge team effort that also involves many staff from other departments, as well as the teens’ families. In addition, students from Grassfield High School in Chesapeake and members of Lifepoint Christian Fellowship in Chesapeake will volunteer at prom, which of course will include the crowning of a king and queen.

Several other local businesses also have agreed to donate products and services:

  • Random Breeze Boutique in Virginia Beach provided prom dresses the girls selected themselves.
  • The new Edward Johnson Salon in Norfolk will send stylists and a makeup artist to the hotel to do the girls’ hair and makeup.
  • The New Leaf florist in Norfolk will provide corsages and boutonnieres.
  • Premier Events of Virginia Inc., of Virginia Beach, offered to donate a décor package, including a mural backdrop, a red carpet with stanchions and velvet ropes, table linens and chair covers, and centerpieces for the tables.
  • Play It Again DJs of Newport News will provide the music.

In addition, the Auxiliary Board of St. Mary’s Home, an annual supporter of prom, will rent tuxedos for the boys and help with any additional expenses to make this event special.

About St. Mary’s Home: St. Mary’s Home in Norfolk provides around-the-clock, specialized residential care for 88 children and 12 adults from throughout Virginia who have multiple, severe disabilities. With the opening of The Albero House at St. Mary’s in 2013 to provide care for adults 22 and over, St. Mary’s Home has shortened its name from St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children.

Sonja Barisic, APR
Director of Marketing Communications
St. Mary’s Home
(757) 352-2700 | cell (757) 412-7071

St. Mary’s Holds Prom with Help from Norfolk Academy

Music blared and smiles abounded on Sunday, April 29, 2012, as residents at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children danced the afternoon away at prom, with a little help from their friends.

In what has become an annual tradition, students from Norfolk Academy decorated St. Mary’s Atrium and also served as dates for the young adults at St. Mary’s. The Auxiliary Board of St. Mary’s Home provided dresses, tuxes and flowers. A volunteer, Michelle Gabriele, came in to professionally apply the girls’ makeup. St. Mary’s staff and family members of the residents fixed the girls’ hair and helped the girls and boys get dressed for the big dance. Brandon Sutton, a licensed practical nurse at St. Mary’s, acted as DJ.

Koko was voted Prom Queen, and her good friend Brandon was voted Prom King. On hand to crown Brandon was Tiana Smith, a direct support professional at St. Mary’s. Brandon had asked Tiana to accompany him to prom. Brandon cannot speak but, during the dance, he used his computerized communication device to type out a message to Tiana: “I love you.”

You can see more photos from prom on our Facebook page.


Video from St. Mary’s Prom: Part 1

St. Mary’s Home held its fifth annual prom on Sunday, with help from students from Norfolk Academy.

WTKR Channel 3 in Norfolk ran stories about St. Mary’s prom on its newscasts at 11 p.m. Sunday and 5 a.m. Monday. In the clip above, see an interview with Nicole Hoskins Jones, St. Mary’s director of recreational therapy services.

Flowers, Dancing and a King and Queen for the Day

2010 Prom King and Queen: Greg and Amanda    

Some, like Victoria, had attended before and couldn’t wait to go again. Others, like Colton, got to participate for the first time in a tradition of American youth — prom.

“We never thought we’d see him in a tuxedo,” said Colton’s mother, Roxane Ward, who got a little teary-eyed watching her son and 20 other formally attired young adults at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children dancing in the Atrium on Sunday.   

Cool Colton waits to make his entrance. 

Students from Norfolk Academy turned the Atrium into a disco for the afternoon, using decorations from their own recent prom. They also served as dates for the young adults from the Home.

“We have so much fun at our prom, we thought they should have that fun, too,” said Carter McCabe, co-president of Norfolk Academy’s St. Mary’s Club.

Devonta gets ready for the prom, with a little encouragement from Wayne Smith, a certified nursing assistant.

This was St. Mary’s fifth annual prom, an event organized by the recreational therapy services department. Special thanks go to St. Mary’s Auxiliary Board for paying for tuxedo rentals, the DJ and flowers.

 Victoria has attended all five proms at St. Mary’s Home.  

Congratulations to Greg and Amanda, who were voted Prom King and Queen.

Look for a story about St. Mary’s prom on WTKR NewsChannel 3 tonight.

A Special Night for the Home’s Teens

Putting on fancy dresses or tuxedos. Dancing to the latest music and retro tunes like the requisite “YMCA.” Voting for king and queen.
Twenty-one of the older residents of St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children took part in these time-honored rituals of prom on Sunday.
This was the fourth prom held at St. Mary’s Home and the second done in collaboration with students from Norfolk Academy, who were matched up with residents as their dates and decorated the Atrium in an Asian-influenced style, with red balloons and golden bows. SMHDC staff also helped with prom, providing food, putting on the girls’ makeup and dancing a bit themselves. St. Mary’s Auxiliary Board paid for tuxedo rentals and a DJ.
“Every opportunity they have to interact with their peers who are not disabled is wonderful,” said Marie Armstrong, whose niece, Victoria, was all smiles during the dance. 
You can read more about the prom in today’s Virginian-Pilot and see a video of the prom below: