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More than a Black Dress

Written by Dr. Melody Baham Waltz

2021-2022 Little Black Dress Initiative Chair

This morning I looked in my closet full of clothes, but somehow I still had absolutely nothing to wear. Of course, I eventually put on a dress that is less than a year old along with a pair of flats purchased a few months ago and jewelry to match. I had options, when at times, others are lucky to have just one dress and sometimes none at all.

The pandemic has been hard on everyone. However, those in poverty have been put in dire situations. They need the help of others and programs to assist in the financial burden. It is through community programs and organizations like Junior League of Lafayette that those in need can have a sense of hope. The Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) is a new fundraiser to assist in those efforts.

Junior League of Lafayette’s inaugural Little Black Dress Initiative was held March 14-18, 2022. Members, also known as Advocates, donned the same black dress/outfit for five days through the social-media-driven fundraising campaign. The Advocates pinned an “Ask Me About My Dress” button to their dress/outfit each day to encourage dialogue with coworkers, friends, and even strangers. Throughout the week, Advocates used their social media platform to provide facts about poverty in our community while showcasing Junior League of Lafayette community programs that impact these issues.

LBDI week was not about the type of black dress or outfit each Advocate wore. Rather, the outfit served as a platform for Advocates to spark conversations about the types of poverty that exist in our community and the impact Junior League of Lafayette has right here in Acadiana.

One of the most unique aspects of the Little Black Dress Initiative was that it was not a League requirement. Each Advocate volunteered to reach out of their comfort zone to post startling statistics about poverty while posting pictures of themselves in the same outfit daily. Advocates posted on social media, emailed networks, engaged in personal conversation, and texted friends and family about the campaign. Junior League of Lafayette had 50 amazing Advocates raise over $8,000 in just one week. Through their astonishing efforts, the League can further support our Mission that directly impacts our community.

While this first year was successful, there is much more to come for the future. We look forward to raising our fundraising goal, increasing the number of Advocates, and expanding community engagement for the 2023 campaign.

Please view the video below for pictures from throughout the week's events!


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