VANESSA HOWARD: Some of the women that comehere has never been called beautiful before.
VANESSA HOWARD: So our main focus is to justbuild them up.
VANESSA HOWARD: I am Vanessa Howard and Iam a professional hairstylist.
VANESSA HOWARD: I have been running GivingHands beauty salon for three and a half years.I came up with the idea for doing the free sessionsfor the salon to start giving back once a month to homeless women who were broken asI was. I was homeless for almost two years and I had tried to commit suicide on severaloccasions. I became homeless through my children’s father. I had to leave that abusive relationship.And, so, I left him and that was the start of my, my homelessness and I had actuallythree children during that time, during that process and we lived from place to place and,you know, from shelter to shelter and just not having anywhere to go.
VANESSA HOWARD: We typically do 5 to 7 women once a month for our givebacks. We do a full-catered lunch.
VANESSA HOWARD: We do start off with doinghair and then we do facials, we do nails, we do eyebrows and makeup. So the women whenthey come into our, they come in with walls up, they come in broken, they come in alsonot knowing what to expect. And, so, we greet them first of all with just warm arms andjust welcoming them and making them feel loved.
MINDE SHORT: When I was standing at the SalvationArmy, it was for the homeless and they had some people come to help the homeless, youknow, get haircuts and stuff like that. And one of the people there had chopped all myhair off. I had really long beautiful hair.
I was pretty devastated because it had takenme my whole life to grow my hair.VANESSA HOWARD: For me, you know, it’s easy to love all these women because it’s a place that I come from.
SHARDE BROOKS: What prompt me to be a partof Giving Hands foundation and to help these women is from where we came from, being homelessbefore. I remember the most is how people made you feel, how they treated you like youwere less than or not equal to them.MINDE SHORT: Well, I went through an actualpanic attack when I sat down because I wasreliving the nightmare what I went throughand it took her to actually with kindness and love help me through that panic attackbefore I could actually let her touch me.MINDE SHORT: And because she took the timeto let me, you know, talk to her about what happened, I was able to let her cut my hair. So I just want to say thank you very much for helping me.
VANESSA HOWARD: It feels wonderful makingother survivors feel beautiful.
MINDE SHORT: Never been to a spa, never been to a beauty salon, it’s very nice.
MINDE SHORT: Makes me feel younger. ConsideringI have been feeling rather down, it gave me,put a little of faith and hope back in me.VANESSA HOWARD: I just get overjoyed to seewhen women gain their confidence, gain their self-esteem back and feel whole again.
MINDE SHORT: I never heard of a salon helpingpeople. In today’s society, they would rather step over you than help you up off the street, and that’s the truth, you know, and that’s what’s so sad about it.VANESSA HOWARD: The community has acted extremely well through the sessions that we have given.98% of the women have gotten jobs and homes through our givebacks. So, it’s been very successful in the community.
SHARDE BROOKS: Just making a difference inthat one person’s life is more than enough for me.
PRECIOUS BROOKS: My mom, she would alwaystalk about one day giving back to the women that went through similar situations and tosee whatever their issues are, to see the actual salon and to see it in action it’sjust, you know, it is life changing.VANESSA HOWARD: Some of these women cominghere have dealt with domestic violence, have dealt with homelessness. Some of these womeneven dealing with suicide and they being to open up to us and allow us to just feel betterabout themselves.
KATHLEEN EDSON: I am feeling blessed to be able to have that opportunity again.
KATHLEEN EDSON: I love my new look.
VANESSA HOWARD: Just being able to serve themand love all them, it really, really helps us to stay humble and it helps us not to forget,you know, where we come from.
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