BURTON, Michigan—Walethia Aquil has a kind of enchanting laugh, and she laughs a lot. She has a twinkle in her eye and, often, a cascade of shiny satin or a sheath of sparkling sequins at her fingertips.
Aquil is a nonprofit founder, a CEO, and a fairy godmother—ensuring that all Flint and Genesee County girls can have that “Cinderella experience” at prom. Her nonprofit—aptly named My Dreams Do Come True—provides all the finery needed to make any special occasion ... well ... special.
"I like that I can continually surprise the girls that come into my store,” said Aquil, herself a beauty pageant queen who founded My Dreams Do Come True six years ago. “Often times when these young women hear that I’m giving away dresses for free ... they're thinking it'll be something of a lower quality—and then they see my selection.”
Aquil laughs a little louder: “They look at themselves in the mirror and walk out smiling, ready for the ball.”
My Dreams Do Come True provides formal wear for special events including prom—and any other events in which a young woman wants to feel “like a princess,” Aquil says.
“My thing is to pay attention to the trends,” she said. “This year it might be a two-piece dress or they might want what is called a high-low dress. It just depends on the girl, you know? Sometimes you have a young woman who wants to have that flowing gown and, you know what? We’ve got that too!”
The nonprofit puts on a dress drive once a year, and Aquil says her stock this year has been bolstered to “a little over a thousand dresses on hand.”
Several boutiques in the area donate regularly to the little storefront.
“Most of the dresses we have are brand new, with up-to-date styles, and we keep a selection of sizes between 0 and size 24,” she said. “This way we can accommodate any young lady for any event, because we keep a complete range on hand.”
Expect to answer a lot of questions when you arrive so that Aquil can help you pick the perfect finery: Rhinestones? Length? Color? Accessories?
You will smile a lot and have a lot of fun—but you will never be asked about your family finances or level of need. Aquil is adamant about that.
“It can be hard enough on a family to come in and ask for a dress,” she said. “If you’re already in need, I don’t want to put parents in a position where they feel uncomfortable. I want people who come through my door to feel safe and secure, and, truthfully, most are quite pleased by what they find.”
My Dreams Do Come True is located at 3314 S. Saginaw Street in Burton. Dress selection is by appointment only. Donations of dresses and funding are accepted. Young women hoping to make an appointment can reach Aquil through her Facebook page
or on her cell at (810) 334-5427.