Mother takes loss of daughter and creates non profit Rita's Closet for Carroll County students

Posted at 1:44 PM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-21 17:54:20-04

Tamara Medeiros is a mother, make up consultant and now first time storefront owner at the Town Mall of Westminster

"It's going to be an all volunteer operation, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the days we're going to be open so all of us work other full time jobs," Medeiros said.

Making for long days for her and her family. Her husband was busy helping around the store as she shared the reason she works this hard.

It's all for her oldest triplet, Rita. The last thing they did together was shop for her prom dress. Now, she constantly works with special events dresses, knowing her daughter never got to wear hers.

"She was the first to walk, the first to teach them all how to climb under the fence at the house," Medeiros said as she laughed through tears welling in her eyes.

She said Rita was fearless, heavily involved in the community (rugby, point ballerina, played the mellophone in high school, went on a mission trip to Jamaica with her local church), and helpful, "and just her laughter, she was always singing, always.. yeah I'd promised her to a tryout for..." She was trying to remember the name of American Idol. 

Rita was that good at singing, but she never got that chance.

In 2012 she drove to her boyfriend's house, excited to show him the prom dress she and her mother picked out that day, but she never made it home.

"We question whether or not she was trying to race home before curfew... it was kind of a wet night and she went off the road," Medeiros said.

Her father found her. Rita was a month shy of her 17th birthday.

Her mother took her grief and turned it into Rita's Closet, a non-profit that sells donated dresses for every occasion as well as tuxedos, to fund scholarships for Westminster High School Senior girls. 

The organization has grown from 300 dresses to an inventory of 1,500. They now, with the help of the mall, can afford a store front.

Rita's Closet will host an annual fashion show to fundraise and showcase the dresses. It will be March 25, 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Tickets are $15 per person, you can also book a table for eight.

While it's painful for Medeiros to see other girls have their  "Cinderella Moment," it makes her feel closer to Rita.

"It's good, it's a good thing you know. I don't have her but I get to perpetuate what I know would've been something she would've ended up doing at some point, some way, some how," Medeiros said wiping away tears.

Rita was accepted into the nursing program at the Career and Technology Center and would have started in the Fall.

She hoped she could help others one day, and in a way, she still is.

If you would like to donate a gently used dress, contact Rita's Closet or go to their store front at the Town Mall of Westminster.


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