//PICTURED ABOVE: Juniors Emma Roseman and Varsha Danda plan for a Hockaday-run fashion show that partners with Genesis Women’s Shelter and the Akola Project. The show will occur in March or early April of 2019 and benefit the Genesis Women’s Shelter and Akola Project. Roseman and Danda hope that this will become a new tradition at Hockaday.
Calling all students who thrive off the limelight, would be willing to strike a pose in designer goods and also want to help organizations that provide safety, shelter and support for women who have experienced domestic violence. This may be the chance to strike it big and empower women in your community.
If this calls to your à la mode, big-hearted self, then seek out Hockaday juniors Varsha Danda and Emma Roseman. The two students are currently organizing, creating and funding a women-run Hockaday Fashion Show, set to debut in the spring of 2019, to promote women’s wellbeing.
In partnership with Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support and the Akola Project, Hockaday students ranging from kindergarten to twelfth grade will model clothes on loan from Genesis’ thrift store and jewelry made through the Akola Project.
“We were really inspired by Greenhill’s Charity Fashion Show that they have been hosting for quite a few years because it is run by teenagers,” Danda said. “It benefits a great cause, and we thought a fashion show was something that the Hockaday community would respond to really well.”
Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support and the Akola Project are two distinct, Dallas-based organizations that support and inspire women from all different nationalities, backgrounds and ages.
Genesis first became aware of unique needs and vulnerabilities of abused women and children in 1984. Their mission is to help end domestic violence and create a societal shift on how people view domestic violence, through continuous support, housing and mentorship.
Jan Langbein is the Chief Executive Officer of Genesis and as a result is a passionate advocate for at-risk women in the Dallas area.
“We are a three-pronged organization,” Langbein explained. “First, we want to help repair the damage when domestic violence has occurred. Next, we want to prevent it through education and raising awareness, and finally, we want to end it through training and legislative issues.”
Currently, they see 1,200 women and children at their Emergency Shelter, Long-Term Housing Facility and Non-Residential Counseling Office each year.
The organization’s thrift store is open every day and allows Genesis’ clients to acquire items free of charge. The majority of these items are donated from people across Dallas.
“A lot of people want to be apart of Genesis, but can’t afford to give a financial gift. Instead, they can donate to the thrift store through cleaning out their closet or donating those clothes that don’t fit,” Langbein said. “You can bring those clothes to our store, and the moms can shop at no cost for whatever they need, because they sometimes leave with just the clothes on their backs, and it’s important for them to have things in which they can start all over again.”
Akola, the other organization that Danda and Roseman are working with, is a nonprofit jewelry company that sells necklaces and bracelets made by Ugandan women. The company empowers women in poverty and sells the handcrafted jewelry created by the hundreds of women. One hundred percent of the Akola revenue is invested in their mission to help the women transform their families and communities.
“We chose Akola because Emma Siegel, a graduated Hockaday alumnae, interned all through high school and college with the company. They are so inspirational and are centered around women, which is very important to us,” Roseman said.
Choosing the organizations was the easy part for these two, but creating this new community service tradition at Hockaday will be a challenge. For the girls, this isn’t a one-time thing, as they also plan to host a pre-show during a One-Hockaday gathering to preview the actual Fashion Show, which is set to take place around late March or early April of 2019.
“There are so many moving parts, phone calls and meetings. Right now we are just trying to get the bigger picture from all of this, plan a venue and the date,” Danda said. “We want this to be a success and a tradition that will be characteristic to our Hockaday community.”
Their vision has been in the making for a long time, as the juniors first started talking about the possibility freshman year.
“We were really just waiting for something to happen, and since we have friends at Greenhill, we knew it could be possible at our school,” Danda said. “So, we decided to talk to Mrs. Day this summer, and that’s how it got started.”
Not only can one be a spectator at the girl’s empowering Fashion Show, but the two have created committees for fundraising and advertisements that are open for seniors, juniors and sophomores where valuable community service hours will most definitely be obtained.
“There’s a lot of outside-of- school work, like selling and gathering tickets and matching outfits to models, so the more students the better. We want students to bring their own experiences to the team, such as their strengths and weaknesses,” Danda said.
In the end, the Fashion Show is centered around community, growth, awareness and healing.
“We are coming at it with an aspect of joining the community,” Roseman said. “We want to connect all grades, provide a unique way to advertise about the organizations and support women with our platform as independent Hockaday women.”
Story by Paige Halverson, Managing Editor
Photo by Isabella Akhtar