For a few hours every Saturday, Los Angeles’ Skid Row — home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of homeless people — transforms into an outdoor beauty salon.
There, where tents line city blocks, people gather to get makeovers from Shirley Raines, or one of her team of volunteers, made up of licensed hair stylists, barbers, makeup artists.
Raines came up with the idea for her non-profit, Beauty 2 The Streets, after recognizing that a haircut, a new hair color and makeup can help homeless people to thrive.
“Just because they live on the streets doesn’t mean that there aren’t things we can do to help them not appear as they live on the streets,” Raines told CNN.
When California ordered all its residents to stay at home in late March due to the coronavirus, Raines and her volunteers complied. But the following Monday, she found messages on her social media from community members who were alone and hungry.
“I realized that we didn’t have the luxury of self isolating because we built this relationship with the community so we need to still go out there and help them.”
Homeless people are very vulnerable to Covid-19 because they live in close quarters and have limited access to cleaning facilities. So the team began handing out food, hand sanitizer and water, while adhering to distancing guidelines and wearing masks.
Still, the desire for beauty products is there, Raines said, so they have been slowly bringing out wigs, makeup, combs and brushes so homeless people can style themselves.
She said if there’s anything to learn from the pandemic, it’s that “any one of us could be them (homeless) at any given time.”
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