Neighbors Give Brooklyn Teens Prom Suits, Etiquette Lessons

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The organization We Make Us Better has paired with the Brooklyn Prom Project to rent tuxedos for all 30 graduating males at Bedford Academy High.

    Graduating seniors at one Bedford-Stuyvesant High School won’t need to worry about what to wear for prom.

    Two neighborhood organizations will be providing tuxedos and prom dresses to the students free of charge. The outfits come with a catch, though -- the teens are required to attend a crash course in etiquette before their prom.

    “We reached out to Bedford Academy because it is a very high achieving school, and we wanted to reward the kids for their hard work,” said Titus Mitchell, 41, co-founder of the grassroots men’s organization We Make Us Better.

    We Make Us Better has paired with the Brooklyn Prom Project to rent tuxedos for all 30 graduating males at Bedford Academy High for the June 9 prom.

    Mitchell hopes that the prom experience, and the etiquette lessons, will teach the young men social skills that they might not get on their own.

    “We want to re-establish a positive male influence in our community,” said Mitchell. “A lot of these kids don’t know how to open the door for a young lady or tie a tie. If they don’t have any male figures around, how will they ever learn?”

    Mitchell talked to various tuxedo providers before he found the best deal at the Men’s Warehouse on Flatbush Avenue. The company agreed to donate five suits and rent the remaining 25 for a reduced price.

    To raise the more than $2,000 needed to pay for the suits, Mitchell and his group are organizing a “Men Who Cook” fundraiser on Saturday.

    Neighborhood men will gather to cook their specialties, including jerk wings, shrimp primavera, collard greens, fried chicken, pumpkin blueberry cheesecake, and flourless chocolate cake.

    The event will be held at St. Phillips Episcopal Church on Decatur Street from 2 to 5 p.m. A $20 donation will buy access to all of the food at the cook-off.

    Bernice Malone, creator of the Brooklyn Prom Project, which donates prom dresses to high school girls in the Brooklyn area, worked with Mitchell to get suits for the young men taking girls to prom at Bedford High.

    "Last year was my first year organizing the prom dress collection for girls,” said Malone. “I wanted to include the young men but it’s more difficult to get suits because they have to be fitted.”

    The idea for the etiquette lessons also came from Malone, who provided free sessions on etiquette, skincare and beauty to girls as part of her prom-dress giveaway last year.

    “Proper etiquette is something that’s not part of everyday learning,” said Malone. “It’s important to have our youth behave properly at prom, and after prom, in society.”