Shelter residents get free makeovers

November 21, 2011 (CHICAGO)

They received free haircuts and more as they work to get their lives back together while living temporarily in shelters for the homeless or for victims of abuse.

The doors opened early at Capri Beauty College on the South Side Monday. 70 Chicago stylists came in on their day off to touch the lives and lift the spirits of women who live in homeless or abuse shelters.

"It feels good - it feels very great. I am inspired, I like the atmosphere, it's nice," said stylist Amyoseita Sanders.

"I am a victim of domestic violence, so this was one of the blessings, for them to be able to do this for me," said participant Kathy Hughes.

"It's making me feel all good inside, it's making me feel good about myself," said participant Roberta Calderon. "I can lift my head up and face the world again."

Women packed the school to receive their day of pampering. That involved snipping, clipping, curling, flat-ironing, dying the hair, and even adding hair extensions to make the women feel beautiful this Thanksgiving Day weekend.

"It is a wonderful thing that they are doing," said participant Gussie Dossie. "I have been through a lot in my life, but God is going to see me through."

"These young ladies, many of them have never been affirmed by anybody, so if we can affirm them in whatever way we can through beauty, hairdos and everything, that is one way of doing it, just to lift their spirits," said Rev. Gregory Livingston of Mission of Faith Baptist Church. "When they come in here, some of them, their heads are down, but when they leave, they walk out strutting, and it is a beautiful thing."

All the services and products are donated. The Free Hairdos for Thanksgiving event is the brainchild of Elbert Castleberry.

"We're in the industry, and we want to give back and give a blessing to the less fortunate, who are going through something," said Castleberry. "The most important thing is to lift people pride and spirits and when they are feeling good and looking good, they can do more and accomplish more."

"It kind of lifts my spirits and makes me feel good about myself," said participant Lauri Ferry.

"This makes me feel a lot better about myself, picks me up a little bit that I am doing something good for myself," said participant Susan Spivey.

Not only did the women get free hairdos and some pampering, organizers and supporters say they will keep tabs on these women and will purchase Christmas gifts for them and their families this holiday season.

Many of the participants are mothers. Castleberry says the event has been done in other cities, and he plans to continue the event every year in Chicago. He says this is his way of giving back to women who need a boost.

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