Skip to main content

The Helping Hand: Ellen Young

Providing free formalwear and accessories to underprivileged teen

Madison Miller

Published on: April 01, 2024

Ellen Young 2024 superheroes
Ellen Young. Photo credit: Will Austin

Growing up in a large extended family that welcomed adoptive and foster children, Ellen Young says witnessing her family’s generosity and commitment to helping others fueled her passion for making a difference in others’ lives.

The thought of a child experiencing pain or hardship is a weight Young carries with her every day, and it drives her in her work with Ruby Room, a nonprofit that provides free formalwear and accessories to underprivileged teens.

Clothing is more than just fabric, Young says, explaining that it’s a powerful tool for self-expression and empowerment. Young started her career as a hairstylist and has seen firsthand how a well-fitted outfit or a stylish accessory can transform a person’s demeanor and instill in them a newfound sense of confidence and self-worth.

“These young individuals often struggle with issues related to self-esteem while recovering from trauma and neglect. It was this realization that inspired me to establish initiatives that not only catered to their needs but also aimed at boosting their confidence through fashion, addressing their emotional well-being effectively,” she says.

Young has overseen Ruby Room since 2016 and today serves as chair of its nine-person board. In her time with Ruby Room, Young has spearheaded Ruby Room’s signature Fashion Workshop program, RubyRox Box care packages and the Holiday Giving program. After joining forces with Ruby Room, she led the expansion of programs to include provisions of male formal attire, a quinceañera dress program and a cosmetics bar for clients.

While she’s incredibly proud of Ruby Room’s accomplishments, she’s always striving for more. She adds that her vision of success foresees an expansion model by which Ruby Room can grow into a statewide program and continue across the nation to serve and support young people and families in local communities.

“Access is the greatest barrier our clients face in benefiting from Ruby Room programs, and increasing the number of physical locations throughout the highest-need regions would really change the game for Ruby Room, but, most importantly, the kids,” she says.

Young says parents and community members can get involved with Ruby Room by joining the board or taking leadership opportunities as well as expanding its network of resources in the fashion, tech, finance and real estate industries.

What book or podcast are you recommending right now?

“Think Again” by Adam Grant — an insightful exploration of rethinking assumptions and embracing new perspectives.

How can parents teach children to repair a broken world?

Cherish the gift of time with your children. It’s the most precious resource you can offer and lays the foundation for a loving and resilient family bond.

What daily habit or routine is most important to you?

Prioritize self-care. Whether it’s yoga or a peaceful walk, nurturing your well-being sets a positive example for your children and fosters a healthy mindset.

Get to know more of our 2024 Superheroes!

Get the best of ParentMap delivered right to your inbox.

Related Topics

Share this resource with your friends!