There’s just something about a makeover that almost every woman loves, but not every woman looking for a little “me time” gets that opportunity.
About 15 homeless or near homeless women walked into Turning Points earlier this month to get that opportunity. Some hung their heads, eyes to the floor, and one even said they were undeserving of the experience.
“She came in and was very shy, not a lot of eye contact, and kept saying that she didn’t want any of the services we were offering because she felt like she didn’t deserve it,” said Home Is Where The Heart Is founder Laura Licoski, who spearheaded the event. “She had zero self-esteem and we had to keep pushing her through it, but then all of a sudden her personality just came out and there was a glow in her by the time we were done.”
Licoski said the pampering event at Turning Points took three years to make happen, but once it got rolling it was flooded with volunteers and donated goods to ensure a full makeover of hair, nails, makeup, clothes and jewelry was possible.
This was just a start to show you that we value you, love you and can build from here.
Laura Licoski, Home Is Where The Heart Is founder
Kristina Gomez lives on the cusp of homelessness each and every day, responsible for multiple family members.
“With someone like me who is very low income, I can’t afford to go to salons,” Gomez said. “As a mom, this made me feel good. This was something totally different for us but well needed amongst us women because so many of these women are amazing people.”
Licoski said she sees the beauty in these women every day in their hearts and souls.
“They came in here with such low self-esteem,” she said. “They made mistakes like everyone does, but they get bashed over and over again and reminded of their mistakes time and again. This is a way of saying I don’t care what happened to you or what you did wrong. I want to show you your value and worth and inspire you to do more, to be more.”
Tara Blackson was just recently able to get out of the Salvation Army shelter and into a new home.
“It’s been a tremendous amount of pressure, especially with kids,” Blackson said. “This was really a good time because I don’t take time for myself.”
Everybody thought I was going to a wedding or getting married.
Connie Smith, homeless
Connie Smith, who has recently become homeless again, said it was an exciting day.
“Everybody looked at me and said, ‘Wow, you don’t look like Connie anymore.’ Everybody thought I was going to a wedding or getting married.” Smiling, Smith was quick to add, “That’s not happening.”
Licoski said the day was filled with heartwarming moments.
“Everyone walking out that door looked like they had been shopping in downtown New York,” she said. “They were strutting, emboldened, and their heads were held high. There were tears and hugs and that’s what it is all about. Everyone was so humbled and appreciative.”
There was such a difference between when they walked in compared to when they walked out.
Cheryl Hedger, Turning Points volunteer coordinator
Cheryl Hedger, Turning Points volunteer coordinator, said the day was equally rewarding for the volunteers.
“It was a very heartwarming experience,” Hedger said. “We were able to give every woman a lot of special attention. There was such a difference between when they walked in compared to when they walked out.”
There is already talk to do another event in October. Donations can be made to Hedger through Turning Points and the items will be held specifically for the next pampering event. Hedger said any cash donations would also be specifically put toward the event.
Hedger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-747-1509. Donations and volunteer information can also be provided to Licoski’s Home Is Where The Heart Is through her Facebook page or call 941-592-2160.
“This was just a start to show you that we value you, love you and can build from here,” Licoski said.