Fashion Designer Becomes Houseparent to Give Back Talents at Milton Hershey School
Featuring Milton Hershey School Houseparent Paulette Everett
With an eye for design, Paulette Everett transports her fashion experience into her role as a houseparent at Milton Hershey School. Paulette prides herself on helping her middle school girls learn about presenting themselves and how clothing is made from start to finish.
When Paulette and her husband, Matt, moved from the sunshine state to Hershey, Pennsylvania, they visited The Hershey Story to learn about the town’s history. The museum is dedicated to chocolate maker, Milton S. Hershey, and his many business endeavors that allowed him to leave his fortune to MHS—a home and school for low-income children.
The Everetts were amazed by Mr. Hershey and all that he and his wife, Catherine, built. Paulette was personally struck by the chocolate maker’s passion for salvaging materials.
“Before recycling became commercialized, Mr. Hershey found a way to be innovative and use every piece of his chocolate to eliminate waste,” Paulette said. “He would use cocoa shells as garden mulch and cocoa butter for specialty soaps in his hotels.”
This sustainability effort inspired Paulette to think about how she could turn trash from her student home into something more. In 2020, Paulette and her students repurposed used candy wrappers into a dress designed to replicate a Christmas tree. This project collided Paulette’s worlds—fashion and parenting—and made her wonder, “How can I teach my students about fashion and what it takes to be a designer?”
This year, in honor of Fashion Week, Paulette’s team of junior designers are creating their first wearable, recycled materials gown inspired by the HERSHEY’S chocolate bar that started it all.
“On the back of the chocolate bar, the community can learn about the partnership between MHS and The Hershey Company,” Paulette said. “We are repurposing the wrappers to inspire others to be creative and think about ways a family can be sustainable in everyday life.”
The Everett’s student home is known as a “fashion hub” because of Paulette’s teachings. Brayla Whiten, MHS eighth grader, is particularly interested in fashion and is learning how to embroider. During her first few weeks at the school, Brayla designed and fashioned a hoodie together using one of Paulette’s custom templates.
Paulette believes that the fashion projects in her student home are teaching more than just style. She echoes, “Not only am I teaching life skills like sewing and project management, but also values that help students to persevere despite life’s challenges.”