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Ana Yevonishon: A fashion show benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters and empowers teen models

One of Ana Yevonishon’s goals is to give kids more confidence. To help with that, the Hockessin resident organized a second annual fashion show this year for girls ages 9-18 as a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware.

“I think it’s very important for girls to feel confident because when you feel confident there is not much that can stand in the way of whatever it is you want to do,” says Yevonishon, the owner of and photographer at Expressions Photography in Hockessin.

The show, scheduled for Saturday, April 14, at First Alliance Church in Hockessin, is an opportunity for the 40-year-old to give girls who don’t always feel noticed or popular the chance to shine. Girls of all heights, shapes, sizes, and ethnicities are encouraged to participate.

“When I was young, I was the shy girl,” says Yevonishon. “The one who was friends with the popular girls, but was not really one of them. I would have loved the opportunity to shine in this way.”

Since BBBS’ inception in 1964, Yevonishon is the first business owner to hold fashion shows to aid the non-profit, according to Stephanie Johnnie, director of development and communication at BBBS. Last year the event raised $800. This year Yevonishon, hopes to raise $1,000.

Johnnie says proceeds from the fashion shows are used to recruit and to supplement mentor expenses. Currently 170 kids are on a waiting list for mentors. The BBBS matches kids facing adversity between the ages of 6 to 18 with mentors for the purpose of developing positive relationships and role models.

Yevonishon, who donates to and helps raise funds for various children’s charities and schools, chose BBBS because she believes in the organization’s concept that spending one-on-one time with children helps build self-esteem and confidence. “I have three kids and I know firsthand how it can help,” she says. “When kids need that but can’t always get it for whatever reason, this organization can help.”

When Kathryn Hall heard Yevonishon had organized another fashion show, the 17-year-old did not hesitate to volunteer as a model. The Newark resident is familiar with BBBS because for nine years her parents mentored two brothers who became like family.

And although the Newark Charter student doesn’t consider herself a girly girl, and is not into fashion, and doesn’t care to go shopping, her experience last year in the show convinced her she had made the right decision when her friend recruited her.

“In the fashion industry you’re expected to be tall, skinny, like a Victoria’s Secret model,” says Hall, who is 5’ 3” and has hearing implants. “But in this fashion show, you can be yourself. You don’t need to be six feet tall, size zero, and look like a Barbie Doll.”

Hall, who had not modeled before, also learned that having the courage to experience new things helps you learn about yourself. “I know it’s okay to just let go and be yourself and accept who you are and not be too concerned with what others want and expect from you.”

Eighty people attended the event last year; 17 teen models volunteered, and 11 area clothes vendors participated. Girls from the Ms. Delaware USA Ambassador Pageant also showed up to give the volunteers tips on how to “strut their stuff.”

Tickets are $10 each. Children 2 and under are free. Tickets are sold at the door at First Alliance Church in Hockessin. For more information, email Ana Yevonishon at ana@photosbyexpressions.com.

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