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CF firefighters make prom day special

March 26, 2012

CENTRAL FALLS — The Central Falls firefighters' union has come to the rescue of some Central Falls High School students who were worried they could not afford to go to their senior prom.
On Tuesday, eight students who are taking part in the high school's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM ) Academy internship program in conjunction with the Central Falls Fire Department received a nice surprise: their prom dresses, tuxedo rentals, flowers, and limousine would be paid for, courtesy of I.A.F.F. Local 1485.
Fire Lt. Milton Giard, who has been in charge of the Fire Department's section of the internship program this year, said that he heard some of the students talking about the upcoming prom and overheard one young woman say that she wanted to go but couldn't afford a dress. A couple of other students also expressed concerns about the costs involved. “I thought, that's too bad...everyone should be able to go to their prom,” he said.
Giard said that he asked his fellow firefighters if they would be willing to contribute money to help the students buy their gowns and rent tuxedos, and union membership agreed, donating $2,500 to the cause. A shopping trip was planned for the six female students at Party Dress Express in Fall River and they were given $300 each to put towards a gown. The two male students in the program were given $100 each towards a tuxedo rental and the firefighters will be taking them to choose their formal wear this week.
The firefighters also went beyond the party clothes and contacted some other local businesses to see what services could be provided. Pristine Limousine, at 679 Washington St., in Atteboro, Mass., is providing a limousine large enough to fit the eight interns and their dates, so they can all ride together to the prom. The white, stretch Escalade was brought to the Fire Station on Tuesday to show the students what their transportation would look.
Additionally, thanks to a connection with one of the firefighters' wives, flowers are being furnished by Personal Touch Florists in Warwick, and the young women are being treated to a “day of beauty” involving hair styling and manicures at Avant Garde Salon and Spa at 806 High Street in Cumberland.
Battalion Chief Bob Bradley said that while the union regularly does things to help the community, this was the first time it had done something on this big a scale. He said that Giard brought his original suggestion to the membership about paying for the prom dresses “and we took it from there. The union approved over and above what he was looking for,” said Bradley.
Giard said that the Central Falls Fire Department has been participating in the STEM Academy internship program for the past three years. It was created to give students hands-on, real world experience in science-based careers, and they apply and are chosen to participate in the various programs based on different criteria. Other internship partners have included the Memorial Hospital, Miriam Hospital, Harris Health Care, Save the Bay, Roger Williams Park Zoo, Norman Bird Sanctuary, VCA Povar Animal Hospital and the Nature Conservancy.
In the Fire Department program, the interns learn some basics about what it takes to be a firefighter and an emergency medical technician. They receive certification in CPR, learn how firefighters gain entry to burning buildings and use equipment such as the Jaws of Life, and do other hands-on projects.
“The internship has been extremely successful this year because the students have been so determined, motivated and pleasant to work with,” said Giard. “Because of this success, Local 1485 wanted to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of these interns by rewarding them for their public service by providing them everything they would need to have a memorable senior prom.”
Giard said that he and Central Falls Science Teacher Laura Stanish took the girls to Party Dress Express, an experience that he jokingly described as “painful.” “We were there three hours!” he exclaimed. “But they all found dresses.”
On May 18, the night of the prom at Twelve Acres banquet facility in Smithfield, the limousine will be picking up the interns and their dates at the Fire Station. “Some of them wanted to take pictures with us,” Giard said. “This is a great group of students, and we have become close to them all,” he said.
One of the appreciative interns, Sasha Gonzalez, said, “I think this is great. It was a surprise. I wasn't even sure if I was going to go to the prom.”
Jessenia Ramos added, “I didn't expect this. They just told us they were going to help with the dresses, and now we find out its hair, nails, flowers, and the limo, too.”
Brianna Cooley said that she and the other female students were pleased with the news of the dress shopping experience, and then were further excited to find out about the limousine, flowers, and spa experience. “They asked us to come outside and there was the limo,” she said. “It's great.”
The two male interns, Jozman Reyes and Herman Carrizales both said they were happy to have the money for tuxedo rentals. “It helps a lot,” said Carrizales. While not yet sure what style they wanted, they both said they were looking forward to the big night.
Of the internship program, Reyes said, “I love it. I am excited every day to come over here. They are great people and this is a great opportunity...I've learned a lot about safety.”
“It taught us a lot,” agreed Brianna Cooley. “We got our CPR license, and we learned about how they use forcible entry, things like that. It's interesting.”

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