“I want my mum to be so happy when she sees me in my dress. I want her to cry with pride.”
Ahead of their much-anticipated senior school formal next week, Latysha and seven fellow graduating students from Carinity Education Southside visited a clothing emporium with a difference.
Formally Ever After is a community program in Logan which supplies free donated dresses, suits and accessories for young people struggling with the costs of attending their school formal.
The charity operates out of the home of passionate “formal fairy godmother”, Tammy Robinson. Tammy strives to show struggling young adults that “kindness is free”.
“I grew up in Woodridge and Ipswich with a single mother and we never had anything; we were very poor. I remember the times when people were kind to me and that gave me hope. Hope is what I’m giving to these students,” Tammy said.
“A lot of kids aren’t going to their school formal just because they don’t have money. Here they can get everything they need for free. When they try on clothes you see them stand taller and you see them smile.
“One Southside student who didn’t realise her dress was free started crying as she thought she was borrowing the dress and had to give it back. I get that a lot: students and parents overwhelmed because they can’t believe people can be that kind and generous and giving.”
Since establishing Formally Ever After in 2019, Tammy has dressed 1,500 high school students and 450 other vulnerable people requiring formal wear.
Last year she dressed students from 140 schools including a student who caught a train to Logan from Nambour with his mother, and teenagers living in a remote Indigenous community in far north Queensland.
Tammy has also supplied outfits for graduations, school fashion shows, wedding parties and court appearances. As well as dresses and suits, Formally Ever After provides free shoes, perfume and jewellery to teenage formal-goers.
“It’s a great place and I love the way Tammy has set it up. It was really fun to dress up. I tried on four or five dresses and would have liked to take home three extra dresses,” said Carinity Education Southside student, Janaya.
“I actually thought we had to pay for our dresses and when our teacher said that it was free, I couldn’t believe it. It’s a good charity that Tammy is running and it’s nice for those who are struggling with money.”
Tammy’s compassionate nature also flows through to supporting Brisbane seniors in her role as a lifestyle carer for Carinity Home Care.
“You’ve got to do stuff with purpose, make sure you’re using your time wisely and make it matter. I feel really blessed and happy to be able to do this,” she said.
Carinity Education Southside Principal, Leann Faint, said this is the third year that Formally Ever After has supported the school’s students in their preparations for their senior formal.
“Carinity Education and Formally Ever After share a similar vision: supporting young people to overcome barriers to achieving their dreams. Without Tammy helping some of our Year 12 cohort and other young people in the community, their dream of attending their school formal may be out of reach,” Leann said.
“Seeing the joy on the faces of our graduating students, their families, and our staff on their big night is priceless. Tammy is helping young people to create magic memories that will last a lifetime.
“The extended Carinity family is so blessed to have someone as caring and selfless as Tammy as part of our organisation.”
As well as formal dresses, Formally Ever After offers suits and accessories for students such as Kalaiya from Carinity Education Southside.
Carinity Education Southside student Jayana says it was difficult to choose one free formal dress provided by Formally Ever After in Logan.
Tammy Robinson from Formally Ever After has dressed 1500 people such as Carinity Education Southside students Janaya and Jade for their school formal.