Rita Medeiros’ mother, Tamara Medeiros, turned heartbreak into hope for others when she founded Rita’s Closet in 2012 as a way to honor the life of her 16-year-old daughter.
On Saturday, March 2, the Rita’s Closet Fashion Show, held at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center from 1 to 3 p.m., will keep Rita Medeiros’ memory alive.
Rita was on her way home from purchasing a prom dress from DeMario Bridal and Formal in the spring of 2012, when she lost her life in a car accident.
The impact on her family, including her parents and triplet siblings, Emily and Alexander, and older brother, Justin, was devastating. The family started the nonprofit Rita’s Closet in her honor, assuring that other girls would always have an opportunity to attend their proms.
The Rita’s Closet shop in the TownMall of Westminster offers prom dresses at reasonable prices — and sometimes for free — to high school students in Rita’s honor. The nonprofit, under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Carroll County, also gives multiple scholarships to graduating seniors.
A vital part of the community, Rita played rugby with the Marauders, she was a dancer, and she twirled with the No Doubt Twirling Team. She was part of the Westminster High School Band, and was involved with her church, Grace Fellowship Chapel.
Rita didn’t get to wear her prom gown, but others will have beautiful gowns because of Rita’s Closet. In addition, local students can apply for one of the multiple scholarships offered in her honor.
“We offer two scholarships at the Carroll County Technology Center as well as one at each of the following high schools — Westminster, Winters Mill and Manchester Valley,” Tamara Medeiros said. “For our family it means remembering our daughter Rita M. Medeiros in the most impactful way, helping graduating high school students offset some of their expenses as they pursue higher education.”
In addition, Medeiros makes it a point to include local students in this event.
“Our Annual Fashion Show and Tea provides an opportunity to involve students and staff in our event,” she said. “The culinary students make the food [and] the cosmetology students help with hair and makeup.”
Tickets to the fashion show cost $15 for one, $25 for two or $100 for a table of eight.
“We’ll have tea sandwiches, crudités, cookies, lemonade, and of course, a variety of teas,” Medeiros said of the event. “We model ages and stages of life from party dresses, cruise and special occasion wear, prom dresses, wedding dresses and then we finish with a complete wedding party. “
Medeiros said those who visit will find some vendor sales on site, as well. They may also choose to pop a balloon for a chance to win a prize. Balloons cost $10 or $20 with prizes valued at approximately $100 to $200.
Reservations for the fashion show are required and must be made by Friday, Feb. 15. Medeiros said last year, it was standing room only. Reserve tickets online at http://ritascloset.org and click on the events tab.
The Rita’s Closet store, next to Belk in the mall, is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, with dresses for all occasions, even weddings. Medeiros said prom dresses cost $35 or $50.
It is run by volunteers, and more are needed. Choose the “Volunteer” tab on their website to learn more.
“Rita touched many lives and as a result we want to perpetuate the impact we know she would have continued to have on this community,” her mom said. “This event provides exposure and keeps the mission alive in our community.”
The Carroll County Career and Technology Center is located at 1229 Washington Road, Westminster.
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For more information or to make reservations, visit them online at http://ritascloset.org or call 410-207-5145.