She may not turn pumpkins into carriages, but Shiv’on Bullock, 35, of Kansas City is kind of a fairy godmother. Every spring, she makes dozens of teenage girls’ wishes come true with free prom dresses, shoes and accessories.
Her nonprofit organization, the Show Me Shoes Foundation holds a prom extravaganza for high school girls who are unable to afford the luxury of the perfect prom. Donations of new and gently used dresses, shoes, accessories and jewelry are distributed to the young women during a fun-filled event, featuring giveaways and a DJ. This year, the event was at the Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley campus.
Throughout the year, Show Me Shoes also donates footwear to group homes and domestic violence shelters, holds career and social media workshops for teenage girls, and hosts a networking brunch highlighting professional women.
The foundation’s Teen Master Class, a day of workshops and motivation in June, will be at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library for interested teen girls ages 13 to 19.
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The nonprofit organization holds events in Atlanta, Kansas City and Los Angeles. Next year, Bullock hopes to launch in Chicago as well.
For more information about Show Me Shoes, or to make a monetary donation, visit showmeshoes.org.
Rocking girl power
When she helped create Show Me Shoes in Atlanta six years ago, Bullock’s main goal was to empower young women.
“You can be having the worst day, but once you put on a pair of fabulous heels, it lifts your confidence,” she says. “Your face lights up. I thought, ‘How can we help girls maintain that high self-esteem once the heels come off?’ ”
An unreality check
The foundation works with teens on another kind of footprint — the digital one.
“One of the most important things young girls need to learn right now is how to conduct themselves on social media because what you put on the Internet stays there forever,” she says. “They also need to realize all those Instagram selfies they see out there are fake because it’s all about that perfect angle, taking 50 different shots and Photoshop.”
Living her dream
Bullock started to think about launching a community outreach program when she was a teenager, but thought her goal was unattainable.
“I always thought you needed a lot of money to start something like this,” she says. “But as I grew up, I realized all it takes is passion and hard work. Everyday people can make a difference and that’s exciting.”
Her biggest lesson
“People get this perception that if your nonprofit is successful, you must be doing well financially, and that is not true at all,” she says. “Every donation, every penny goes toward these girls. We rely on volunteers and donated space for each event. It is a huge challenge, but it is also extremely rewarding, especially when a girl tells me how much just one pair of shoes means to her.”
Coming full circle
“A lot of girls give back their prom dresses the next year and some even become volunteers,” Bullock says. “It’s a real bonding experience between the volunteers and the girls, because we get to learn their stories and share our own. It’s almost like being a big sister.”