Joy Prom

What was your prom night like? Were you filled with nervous anticipation, excitement, or maybe a little dread? For the adults with disabilities attending Saturday, April 11th’s event at Winston-Salem First, it was pure JOY.

106---Joy-Prom-4-SFWOn this beautiful spring evening, around 100 adults ages sixteen and up were invited to experience what most would consider a rite of passage in life, and what for many was a first – prom night. The women donned their finest, in sequins and satin, while the men were debonair in suits and button-ups. Each arrived to be announced by an MC on a red carpet entrance, complete with cheering fans and the flashing lenses of the paparazzi. Participants were paired with a “date” host or hostess to walk them through the night’s “Under the Stars” themed event. After each guest received a corsage or boutonniere, the first stop for women was the Girls’ Glamor and Glitz Room where volunteers waited at twelve different make-up, hair, and jewelry stations to do touch-ups or add a little bling (including tiaras for the evening) to each ensemble. Meanwhile, the men headed down to the Shoe Shine Room to get a polish, but not before a stop at the Photo Booth to have their official prom night pictures taken (with or without the fake mustaches and silly glasses provided). Everyone converged onto the dance floor, which was crowded with smiling faces and uninhibited dancing as volunteers enticed even the most reluctant onto the floor for some fun. Caregivers got the night off, able to enjoy some respite while watching the evening’s events projected on a big screen. Finally, feet weary guests could go relax in the Starlight Café and enjoy some refreshments and desserts! When exhausted guests and volunteers finally made their way home after a full evening, it was with smiles on their faces and memories to cherish in their hearts.

Shelley Hundley, owner of Sass Consignment Boutique, who donated much of the jewelry in the Glamour and Glitz Room, says of this year’s Joy Prom, “For participants, Joy Prom is a fun night in which they feel beautiful and special. However, for many of the volunteers, Joy Prom is much more. It is the celebration of the belief that all people are perfectly created and should be celebrated. It is a way of life… a way of thinking that is an outpouring from the love and respect deep within us.”

106---Joy-Prom-3-SFWJoy Prom, an event inspired by Luke 14:12-14, is a nationally held prom specifically catered to adults with “different abilities.” The event was conceived ten years ago by Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh and has begun to spread across the United States. While Charlotte, Matthews, and Chapel Hill have hosted Joy Proms of their own, this is the first time Winston-Salem has been home to the event. A small group, largely from Reynolda Church and led by Joy Prom Coordinator Donna Zayas, organized and planned the massive undertaking. Love out Loud, a coalition of local churches and non-profits, provided support for the event and over 250 volunteers contributed to make it a success. Pastor Alan Wright of Reynolda Church says of the endeavor, “We wanted every person in our community to feel loved and celebrated and honored. That’s why we were thrilled to help with Joy Prom – a night of red carpet treatment for some of the most special people in the world.”


You can find out more about this event and how to participate in next year’s Joy Prom at