“Are you proud of us?” Catherine’s question hung in the air with expectant excitement. Indeed, the level of pride felt for her and all those who participated in the second annual “A Tribute to Transforming Lives” fashion extravaganza at Saratoga Track’s 1863 Club, could not be greater.

The event was hosted by Natalie Sillery and her fashion boutique, “Saratoga Trunk.” It featured world-class racing and world-class fashion to benefit the world-class causes of Living Resources and Building on Love. Presenting sponsor Steven Bouchey of Bouchey Financial Group, stated it was truly an opportunity for two organizations with different missions but the same heart to come together and do a lot of good.

The fashion part of this year’s event, featured looks by Paul Wesolowski, designer of Aidan Mattox under the Adrianna Pappell label, as well as a selection of men’s clothing from the local Union Hall Supply Co. The designs were modeled by women with years of modeling experience, affectionately known as the “Trunkettes” as well as novices to the runway including individuals served by Living Resources programs.

Two of Living Resources’ models were graduates of our College Experience program. Catherine, who exuded confidence in a retro, 70’s -themed denim outfit, and her best friend, Danielle, a starlet in a glamorous, red suit with a matching hat. Both outfits were repurposed by Diane Stage-Fowler. Catherine said, “I loved how fashionable I was .” Danielle agreed adding, “I loved the whole outfit and that it was repurposed.”

The women were not the only ones enjoying the limelight. Brian, who lives in one of Living Resources’ residences and attends our Day Community Opportunity Program walked the runway with his sister Barbara. He smiled from ear to  ear asserting, “I’m famous!” David, a graduate of the College Experience who was later hired by the program as an Educational Assistant exuded confidence, holding his hat in his outstretched hand, smiling, and turning in circles so all could see.

Jesse Saperstein, The College Experience Media & Activities Liaison who has  Asperger’s syndrome summed up the overwhelming feelings of the day by stating, “It was amazing. I had a rough childhood with bullying. I was often told I was ugly. When people like me are chosen to model in a fashion show, it reminds us that we have value.”

While the fashion show was certainly the day’s highlight, the reason for the event can’t be overstated. Living Resources shared the proceeds of the event with Building on Love to benefit our mission of supporting and empowering individuals with disabilities to live with dignity, independence, and happiness. Checking in with Catherine as the day was winding down her question was reflected back to her, “What are you proud of?” Catherine didn’t pause. She said, “I’m independent – I achieve things, I accomplish things and I am proud of who I am.”

That is what the Living Resources mission is all about.