By Hayden Wiggs
This past weekend, Miss Outstanding Teen Hope Fowler used her title to volunteer at Becca’s Closet and assist teens in preparing for the upcoming prom season. “Becca’s Closet is a local dress bank that provides free prom and homecoming dresses to high school girls who cannot afford one otherwise,” said Fowler. “It was formed by the parents of Rebecca Kirtman who, at age 14, started collecting dresses to give away to her classmates who weren’t able to go to prom. Sadly, at age 16, Becca was killed in a car accident and never got to attend her own prom.” Fowler serves as the chapter leader at Buford High School for Becca’s Closet Atlanta, who, with a stock of around 5,000 dresses, serves as the largest chapter in Georgia.
Fowler chose Becca’s Closet as her service focus for the Miss Outstanding Teen program, which acts as the little sister to the Miss America Scholarship Competition. “We promote confidence, service, and we are the world’s largest provider of scholarships for young women,” Fowler explained. “As part of the service aspect, candidates have the opportunity to promote a cause that is dear to them.” For Fowler, it was no difficult choice. She immediately thought of Becca’s Closet. “I have actually been involved with [them] since I was about eleven. Seeing girls’ faces light up when they are given the opportunity to live out a dream they thought was impossible has been an amazing feeling, and the satisfaction we get as volunteers is honestly one of the coolest experiences of my life. I am so grateful for the MAOT Organization because it has allowed me to promote something that I have been passionate about for years.”
This weekend’s event was an example of Fowler’s passion. She helped put together a closet clean-up event wherein members of Buford High School’s Key Club and FCCLA volunteered to sort dresses and prepare appointments for incoming guests. “We had about a dozen people serving for several hours, and we were able to organize thousands of dresses,” said Fowler. “I felt an enormous sense of gratitude seeing not only the finished product but also the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that my peers felt from having walked in such a good deed.”
Fowler also had an incredibly personal attachment to the event. “My family has been in crisis before, and I know what it feels like not to be able to afford certain things because of situations outside our control,” she explained. “I have personally experienced the frustration and consequent low self-esteem from having lost all my clothes; the gratitude I felt when someone gave me some clothes; and the happiness I experienced when I was on the giving end.” For her, Becca’s Closet not only provides a young girl with the dress of her dreams but the confidence to go alongside it. “I truly believe it is better to give than to receive, and it is in giving that we receive the greatest blessings.”