By Naeisha Rose
Five lucky seniors from the High School for Law Enforcement and Public Safety in South Jamaica are slated to receive suits and dresses for their senior high school prom Saturday .
“Prom Impact 2017,” which is being hosted by the 113th Precinct for the second year in a row, will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Eddie Byrne Police Athletic League center at 116-25 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
Helping to usher in the event is the precinct’s community affairs liaison, Detective Tanya Duhaney.
“This is the sixth year of the event. I use to volunteer at the event at Highland Church in Jamaica Estates, but they were no longer able to do it, so I brought it to the 113th,” Duhaney said.
Growing up, Duhaney’s parents weren’t able to buy her a prom dress so they made her one.
“The gown was yellow and green,” said the detective.
Not wanting kids to lose out on the experience of going to their prom, Duhaney made it her mission to keep the event alive in more ways than one.
“This year we will also be giving a free tuxedo rental from Men’s Wearhouse, in honor of fallen police officers,” Duhaney said. “Jahmani Griffith is getting a suit in honor of Police Officer Wenjian Liu and Keanu Pediford will receive one in honor of Police Officer Rafael Ramos.”
Shererima Pediford, Keanu’s mother, who has six younger children, was very excited about her son having the opportunity to get a suit. Also, she missed out on going to her prom because his biological father didn’t graduate on time, so she decided not to go out of solidarity.
“We actually just came out of a shelter. His [stepdad] works for the MTA, but we are a really big family. We are a family of nine,” Pediford said.
After their landlord took away their apartment in Brooklyn to house his sister, the Pedifords struggled to find anyone who was willing to rent to a family of nine. Eventually, they had to live in a shelter in the Bronx throughout it all. Keanu still went to Law Enforcement High School in Queens almost daily.
“Once I knew we were going to be in transitional housing, I knew it was going to be a tough setup. I had to figure out a new route to school on top of helping my parents get the kids to school and helping them as well, “ Keanu said. “It takes two hours to go to school. I had to get to school at 8:05, which meant I had to leave at 6 a.m.”
Despite all that, Keanu makes time to teach his siblings baseball, work as an assistant for his principal and participate in an art club. After he graduates he intends on joining the Navy and going to Liberty College online during his off days to study video game design and computer science.
“I feel excited, because it takes a burden off my mom’s and dad’s shoulders.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose