By Natalie Anderson
Needing dresses for their first-ever prom slated for later this year, the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Girls Ranch shared the news on their Facebook page. Backwater BBQ owner Wayne Wommack saw the post and decided to pitch in and help.
“I’m an old warrior and don’t leave people behind and these girls were left behind. These girls haven’t had a lot of good things in their life and it looked like it was up to me and my duty… so let’s make this really, really, really good,” Wommack said. “I posted Monday that if we met our goal of prom dresses for these ladies, I would wear a dress to work and work in it, hoping that this would entice somebody to do this.”
As of this week, Wommack has received 24 dresses and 12 pairs of shoes to be donated to the girls ranch, and on May 23, he will be grilling in a dress for the cause at Backwater BBQ, which is located at 5330 Lee Road 379 in Salem. The local community is encouraged to join Wommack for a cause on May 23, meet some of the girls from the Ranch and enjoy some delicious BBQ.
“It’s just been a good feeling and we have young ladies that are willing to give up prom dresses that they’ve had to go towards for a better cause,” Wommack said.
The ranch first opened in 1973, and has been a home for girls who have experienced abuse and neglect throughout their original homes in the state of Alabama. Spread out over 200 acres of land, the organization has a working ranch with chicken, cattle, horses and even lakes for the girls to fish on. The organization strives to teach the girls how to work hard, and believes in instilling a good work ethic.
“We’re constantly fighting the misconception that we are a home for delinquents, but that’s not the case,” said Ranch Director Candice Gulley. “We have children here that have come from unfortunate situations…. we want them to be successful and make the best of life. It’s important for people to know that we are not government funded and rely predominantly on donations and community support.”
Gulley explained that the ranch has hosted winter formals in the past, but never a prom. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, she said she hopes it provide the seniors with a glint of hope.
“Since there were so many seniors graduating this year and missing prom, we wanted to do something special for them… we strive to give them normal experiences,” Gulley said. “With COVID-19, the sense of normalcy is gone and all kids in the nation are facing this same problem and seniors have lost many memories that they were waiting to make… We want to give the girls something to look forward to.”
Individuals are welcome to call the Tallapoosa office number at 256-896-4113 to make donations or contributions. While the prom itself is set for June 20, any business is interested in helping make the prom special for the girls such as setting up a photo booth, finding a deejay, providing finger foods, etc. and would like to help they may call 256-896-4113. For more information and updates, visit their Facebook page.