Today we’d like to introduce you to Maristela Rapo.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Maristela. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I grew up in a very impoverished community and with that came many challenges. There was many times where I couldn’t participate in certain activities because my family simply couldn’t afford it. It was very difficult to feel left out in these situations, as many of my friends were lucky enough to be able to have them.
When I was 17 years old, I saved enough money to leave Brazil and move to Europe where my passion for fashion was officially born! I am the former proprietor of two high-end boutiques, Wolford and Giuseppe Zanotti. After so many years in the fashion industry, I finally found a way to use my fashion expertise to make a difference and give
back to the community!
Having gone through a series of unfortunate setbacks at a very young age in my life, I always had a dream that I would use these experiences to make a difference in people’s lives. At the time, I did not know how I would accomplish this feat. At the time, I did not know that by 2018 I would’ve impacted 286 high school student’s lives. At the time, I did not know that my charity would have instilled confidence and a sense of belonging in kids who faced such similar struggles to my own.
A major asset to the Giving the Glam effort is due in part to the METCO program. Founded in 1966, the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity is the longest continuously running voluntary school desegregation program in the country and a national model for other such programs. In 2014, I approached one of the METCO directors of my town to tell her that if I could ever be of any service to her program I’d be more than willing to help. Nine days later she introduced me to this beautiful young girl that needed help for prom. Given my history in the fashion industry, I saw a perfect opportunity to use my professional skills to give back. I quickly put together a team of kind hearted individuals which included a hairstylist, makeup artist, as well as a photographer and we made Kimberly’s prom a special day that she will always remember. As she herself said, “It was a magical day. I felt and looked like a princess on my prom night”. I had never imagined that in the coming years this one small gesture would expand into a full blown organization with participation increasing from 20 students the first year to 130 students this year in 2018.
This year Giving the Glam is helping 19 schools around all Massachusetts.
In helping these 286 kids through the years, I witnessed firsthand what these young teens and parents are going through in their everyday lives. From lost jobs, to struggles with disabilities and even staggering medical bills, many families simply cannot afford to have their children go to prom due to no fault of their own. Finances and disabilities should simply not be a reason for children to be excluded from such a rite of passage in their high school communities. These kids often struggle with social life, being so bullied throughout high school that some begin to question whether they belong in this world anymore. Many of our program participants work long hours after school to supplement their family income, and so attending prom is simply out of the question.
Giving the glam was created to give kids from all racial and ethnic backgrounds an opportunity to feel special, confident in them, and included in their communities. We are big believers in that if we all do our part to make a difference; this world will be a much better place for all of us. We give these kids courage to continue fighting even when life is not so fair to you. There is no reason for anyone to believe that nobody cares for them. Our ultimate goal is to inspire these kids to succeed and to show them that the notion of “pay it forward” is incredibly important for everyone to live in a better world.
Has it been a smooth road?
Yes, it has been a smooth road from the start. We started off with one girl in 2014 and have grown to one hundred and thirty kids in 2018. In the past 4 years, we have helped a total of 286 kids. This gradual growth has allowed me to control the expenses, the logistics, and be able to learn what needs to be done.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
The goal of Giving The Glam is to provide a truly memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience for high school students who may not otherwise have the financial resources to attend their own school prom in a way that makes them feel unique and special.
But with Giving The Glam’s help, they don’t just attend their prom, they make a glamour statement. This experience not only improves self-esteem and self-confidence, it also provides an indelible frame of reference to strive for the best of what life has to offer.
As a philanthropic organization, Giving The Glam covers all the expenses including attire, hair, makeup, accessories, photography and transportation. Giving The Glam exists to make a positive, confidence-building impact on young lives.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes especially for Giving the Glam since the majority of our participants come from the Boston Public School system that takes part in the Metco program.
- Website: https://www.givingtheglam.org/
- Phone: 6176941108
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/givingtheglam/
Alex & Sue and Michael Blanchard