FAIRFIELD — Shannika Crawford didn’t want her daughter Ji’-reh Crawford to miss out on a high school tradition.
Ji’-reh Crawford, a junior, would have to go to the prom with a friend since her school, the Matt Garcia Learning Center, didn’t have one of its own.
Shannika Crawford said she spent most of her teen years in foster care, living in homes in Oakland. Through the turmoil, she had some fond memories.
“When I went to prom, that was one of the high points of my life,” she said. “It’s like a Cinderella thing.”
Those memories were something that couldn’t be taken from her, she said. The thought of her daughter not being able to have the same memories got her to thinking, then acting.
She started making calls and spending some of her own money. If needed, she’d get another job to help pay the prom bills, she said.
Donation requests went out. She didn’t get any responses.
“I decided I was going to go full throttle,” Shannika Crawford said. “It was going to happen no matter what.”
A mutual friend connected her with the Matt Garcia Foundation, which joined her effort.
The end result: On May 18, the approximately 70 juniors and seniors at the Matt Garcia Learning Center will dance to music from a disc jockey at the Clubhouse at Paradise Valley golf course.
A photographer will be on hand to capture the event. A king and queen, prince and princess will be crowned.
Shannika Crawford’s living room has turned into prom central with supplies that will be used in making the decorations.
Ji’-reh Crawford said when her fellow students heard there would be a prom, many of them figured it would be held at the school. Having it at a venue away from campus makes it even more special, she said.
“The whole school is proud of her,” Ji’-reh Crawford said of her mother. Having their own prom seemed like an impossible dream.
The plans were just starting to take shape when Ji’-reh Crawford found the perfect prom dress.
Shannika Crawford plans on partying with the kids at the prom.
“I’m getting my childhood now,” she said.
She gave birth to Ji’-reh Crawford when she was 21. A few years later, son Isaac Crawford, a seventh-grader at the learning center, followed. Shannika Crawford hopes the prom will be an annual event so her son will be able to participate in a few years.
Those attending the prom can expect words of encouragement from Shannika Crawford.
“I want to tell them how proud I am to see their ambition,” she said.
That falls neatly in line with what she’s been taught by her mother, Ji’-reh Crawford said.
“If you show love, you will get it back,” the teen said.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.