She Lost Hope of Quinceanara, but Volunteers Stepped Up

'I felt like a princess,' says Adriana Palma of Miami
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 22, 2021 1:19 PM CDT
Volunteers Surprise Teen With Quinceanara
In this February 2021 photo provided by Caring Place@ Miami Rescue Mission, Adriana Palma wears a tiara and ballgown as she dances with her father, Noe Ramirez Huerta, on her quinceanera, her 15th birthday celebration.   (Caring Place@ Miami Rescue Mission via AP)

Adriana Palma recently celebrated her quinceanara, but that celebration was possible only because of Good Samaritans. When Adriana left Mexico in early 2020, she looked forward to a new life in Miami with her parents and three younger brothers, per the AP. But when the pandemic hit, her father’s job disappeared, and the family spent four months living in their SUV. Adriana and her brothers, unfamiliar with English, crammed in homework assignments whenever they could find WiFi. In June, the Miami Rescue Mission found a small apartment for the Palmas, and the family slowly adapted to new routines. But Adriana’s 15th birthday was coming, a day she had dreamt of since she was a little girl. Quinceaneras are revered in Hispanic culture and celebrated with all the gusto of a wedding. But after her father lost his job, Adriana said, “I lost all hope of having one.”

Enter Lian Navarro, a community development associate at Miami Rescue Mission who found out about Adriana's birthday and vowed to make the celebration happen. She and a team of about 50 volunteers transformed a bare room in a Miami church into a gala with a Parisian theme. Some gave money, others donated food or services. A makeup artist gave Adriana her very first makeup lesson, a hair stylist put her glossy, dark locks in soft curls, and a professional photographer spent three hours capturing the event. At least one very important person was missing, however—Adriana’s grandmother, who according to custom would have imparted wisdom and a special gift. She remained in Mexico. “Don’t worry,” one of the volunteers told Adriana. “Today, we are all your godmothers.” The teenager's take: "I felt like a princess."

(More quinceaneras stories.)

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