Austin non-profit hosts prom for homeless teens

Thursday evening, Austin area non-profit LifeWorks held its fifth annual prom for youth who are, or have experienced homelessness. The event took place from 6-9 p.m. at LifeWorks’ East Austin location.

The event was for LifeWorks clients ages 16-26.

The theme this year was "Full Moon Masquerade." 

Manicurist, Amy Martinez, volunteered for the first time this year. 

Homeless at the age of 16, Martinez is now in the business of making women feel beautiful. It’s a feeling she hopes to pass on to the girls attending prom, through her volunteer work. “The girls are gonna have their nails and their hair and their make up. They’re gonna feel better, they’re gonna feel better for that evening.” she said. 

Martinez never attended prom. “After 9th grade, I don’t remember anything except being a mom at a very young age.” she said.  Adding that it “means a lot” to see “these young people go [to prom.]” 

“I’ve been to the spot where some of them are, not knowing where they’re gonna sleep at night, what they’re gonna eat that day, the way people look at them because they’re sleeping in a car, or under a bridge and stuff like that.” 

She hopes with a new coat of polish, or a night out with friends in a fancy dress -- the teens will see a fresh start, a second chance. “I never got to go to prom. So, every year that I do go, it’s like filling in the blanks.” said LifeWorks client Justin McKinney. 

McKinney, 26, became a LifeWorks client when he became homeless at age 18. This will be his 5th and final prom. “I know just how soul draining and excruciating it can be to try to eek out a living under those circumstances. And I think the prom, I think that the prom is necessary, because it reminds us that there are things worth living for and experiencing.” 

To learn more about LifeWorks and the prom, click here.