Wynnie Cruz Garcia, 17, tried on prom dresses Friday evening with Butterfly Effect Project executive director Tijuana Fulford, during a shopping trip organized by the group. Courtesy photo

When the Butterfly Effect Project got a call a couple of weeks ago seeking a used prom dress for a high school senior who volunteers at the Head Start program in Flanders, BEP founder Tijuana Fulford was touched by the girl’s story.

Ramona Miranda, one of the advocates at Long Island Head Start, sang the girl’s praises. The 17-year-old Hampton Bays High School senior volunteers at the Head Start program, where her four-year-old sister attends. 

Like most girls, Wynnie Cruz Garcia wanted to go to prom but was in need of a gown, Fulford said.

“When the call came in I heard the story from Ramona Miranda, I was immediately taken aback.” Fulford decided to do more than find a used dress for “this very special girl” — someone “who gives back and now was in need of a little giving herself,” Fulford said.

Fulford, who founded BEP in 2014 to give disadvantaged local girls a boost, decided to surprise Wynnie with a shopping trip to find a prom gown.

“We arrived Friday at the school. We had a driver, Chester Battle – one of our fathers in the program — and our director of development, Carmecha Langhorne, came along to help,” she said.

The trio presented a very surprised Wynnie with roses and told her they were going shopping.

“Off we went to find a dress — Pazas, Macy’s, David’s Bridal and finally, Dress to Distinct,” Fulford said. Wynnie had some “very specific” desires: a red gown lots of bling,” she said. After almost five hours, Wynnie found the gown that spoke to her. “She tried on her dress and blew us all away.”

“Her mother and sister came along for the ride and it was one of the most exhausting and enjoyable experience that BEP was a part of,” Fulford said.

Now the group is looking for help to get Wynnie’s hair and makeup done. Fulford estimates the cost to be about $150. Donations can be made online at the BEP website — put “Cinderella Story” in the comment line, Fulford said — or by check to BEP, 1018 Northville Turnpike, Riverhead NY 11901. BEP is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit.

Fulford said she’s hoping someone in the field might even step up to donate their services.

“That would really complete this community Cinderella story,” Fulford said.

Carmecha Langhorne, Tijuana Fulford and Chester Battle took Wynnie Cruz Garcia shopping for a prom gown. Her younger sister Mary, age 4, tagged along. Courtesy photo.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.