After months of planning, coordinating, and fundraising on behalf of 22 young ladies celebrating their fifteenth birthday the Muckenthaler Cultural Center and Museum in Fullerton, Calif. was where the Second Annual Quinceañera was hosted on October 1, 2014.
Local non-profits, business sponsors and private donors came together in order to create a magical evening with the purpose of giving local youth an opportunity to work on self-esteem, to continue to develop social skills and to provide a day of celebration to a group of teenage girls that otherwise may have not had this milestone moment celebrated.
This year’s quinceañeras were chosen from three youth serving non-profits based in Orange County that included Crittenton Services for Children and Families of Southern California (CSCF), The Women’s Transitional Living Center (WTLC), and The Boys and Girls Clubs of Brea, Placentia and Yorba Linda.
“To have our girls invited by our community partners to participate in a coming of age celebration is a gesture that touches our hearts. For a number of our kids the possibility of having a moment where all that is expected of them is to be their teenage selves is few and far between,” said Martha Jasso, Director of Communications, CSCF,” Being able to give this special opportunity to 22 young ladies that have gone through scenarios that involve childhood trauma, family instability or are in need of strong role models is something that at Crittenton we completely support and are honored to be a part of.”
A Quinceañera is a Latin American tradition that 15-year-old girls participate in to signify to the community that they are officially young women. Despite the event’s Latin American roots the Muckenthaler’s quinceañeras were of various backgrounds and were from throughout Southern California.
The day of the celebration started with an all hands on deck hair and makeup session provided free of charge to the young ladies involved in the event by Salon Lujon of Fullerton, Calif.
By 5:00 pm the talented hair and make-up artists of Salon Lujon were able to style every young lady for her big day. From the salon the girls were quickly transported to the Muckenthaler’s event staging area, and fitted for their dresses and jewelry.
And by 7:00 pm all invited guests, local elected officials, and dignitaries arrived to show their support for every young lady that was being introduced to the local community. As the pastor of the Victory Outreach Church of Fullerton blessed the evening’s activities it was made clear to the girls that those that attended this year’s event truly wanted the best for them.
“In every culture in every region of the world there is some sort of rite of passage into womanhood,” said Zoot Velasco, Executive Director, Muckenthaler Cultural Center, “Some young ladies get the opportunity to go through and call this special day a Sweet 16, others may call it a Bat Mitzvah, or even still some may call this a Debutante Ball, but whichever way you prefer to call this rite of passage the one thing we at the Muckenthaler wanted to make sure for every one of our quinceañeras is that they got to see the entire community band together on behalf of their well-being, and to see that we are rooting for them as they start to transition to adulthood.”
The City of Fullerton Mayor, Doug Chaffee, and the office of the California State Assemblymember, Sharon Quirk-Silva, also took part in the festivities by addressing those in attendance and providing certificates of recognition to the girls as a gesture of good faith and a belief in their future success.
The wonderful part of this journey for all event sponsors and coordinators was being able to showcase what all the young ladies were able to gain from this opportunity. The girls were able to practice proper etiquette and appropriate social skills that Quinceañera consultant and expert, Hilda Gabriela, of In Pink Clouds Hispanic Media was able to teach prior to the event. In addition, the girls also got to learn a dance routine by CF Dance Academy and perform the routine, for all 250 guests, as a show of gratitude to all those in attendance.
Other generous sponsors included: Colette’s Catering that provided the event’s dinner and dance stage at no cost; Women Helping Women who provided free ball gowns and formal wear to every quinceañera selected to participate; the Orange County Community Foundation and Soroptimists of La Habra and Brea provided additional funding as well.
“I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank all involved for making this Quinceanera event happen. We had a client that was selected as one of this year’s quinceañeras and she was so happy the entire day as well as the following day. This event not only taught her life skills that can be used throughout her life, but helped with her self confidence and brought her family closer together,” said Kendra Tankersley-Davis whose employed at CSCF, “My client struggles with body image issues as she is rather tall for her age. As a 14-year-old she is 6 feet tall. She often feels as if she is the tallest person everywhere she goes. During this event she was able to see that the world is filled with beautiful young ladies of all shapes and sizes. She was able for what may have been the first time in her life feel what she calls “normal” as she was not the only tall girl in the room.”
Crittenton Services for Children and Families of Southern California (CSCF) is a non-profit social services agency whose mission is to heal the wounds of abuse and neglect; strengthen families; and help troubled adolescents reach their full potential. Established and incorporated in 1966 Crittenton has a highly trained workforce operating 24 hours a day / 7 days a week providing comprehensive counseling, medical, and other support services to the clients in our care. We provide a full array of residential, in-home, community based, wraparound, mental health, foster care, and adoption services with a service planning area throughout Southern California that covers Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego Counties.