Community nonprofit provides prom dresses to high school girls in need (W/ SLIDESHOW)

Dozens of high school girls anxiously awaited the doors to open at St. Stephen’s Church in Wyandotte on Wednesday evening as they were on the hunt for their perfect prom dress.

As they made their way in, their eyes gleamed with delight once they saw hundreds of gowns in a variety of sizes, colors and styles hung up throughout the room.

It is the first year Mimi’s Mission, a community-based nonprofit, hosted The Butterfly Project, an event that provided new and gently used prom dresses to Downriver high school girls in need.

Volunteers assisted each girl one-on-one to ensure they’d find the ideal dress and accessories they were searching for.

More than 300 of the new and gently used prom dresses came in as a donation from Style U Boutique of Trenton – in addition to over 100 from community members.

Founder of Mimi’s Mission, Lisa Vilella, said The Butterfly Project came together thanks to the owners of Style U Boutique, Kim Pitylak and her daughter Kayli Pitylak.

Kim Pitylak, a longtime friend of Vilella, said each year she makes a large donation of dresses from her boutique to the local Goodwill.

Pitylak said she wasn’t sure if the dresses were being kept within the Downriver store or being shipped elsewhere, so she decided to contact Vilella.

“We want the dresses to be given to girls right here in our community,” said Pitylak.

The mother-daughter duo attended The Butterfly Project as volunteers, where they saw the dreams of so many come true thanks to their generosity.

“It was such a gratifying opportunity,” said Pitylak. “It is a great way to reach out to people living right in your area…and let them know there is help if they need it.”

During the event, families expressed their appreciation for the organization to volunteers and Vilella herself.

The mother of a 17-year-old Roosevelt High School student, Christine Nowicki, said their family has been going through financial issues after her husband lost his job.

The impact has left their family struggling to make ends meet month-to-month, said Nowicki.

“Our daughter was concerned she wouldn’t be able to enjoy her special day with friends being that we don’t have the extra funds to pay for prom-related expenses.”

“We are grateful for Mimi’s Mission…and all they do to help those Downriver…thanks to Lisa and her team, our daughter will be making it to her senior prom in a beautiful ball gown.”

The dresses remaining after the event will be donated to the Wyandotte Theater Group who is working with a Paragon Services, a Wyandotte program designated for young adults with autism. The group is hosting a prom in April for their members.

Vilella said she’d like to thank everyone for the role they played in bringing The Butterfly Project to life – also including Christie Kerr, owner of Vito’s Pizza of Lincoln Park, who provided a special meal for volunteers on the night of the event.

Pitylak said she is looking forward to working with Mimi’s Mission again in the future. She hopes to host a similar event in the fall during the Homecoming season.

Style U Boutique accepts donations of new and gently used dresses in a variety of styles year-round – from short formal dresses to ball gowns at 3271 West Road, Trenton.

For more information about Mimi’s Mission, visit or Style U Boutique at

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