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  • Shirley Raines offers food, showers, and beauty services to the homeless people of Skid Row.
  • She always had a passion for helping out the homeless but got started offering the beauty services after many women showed interest in her hair and makeup.
  • Shirley tells us the story of how she got started helping out the homeless and why she does it.

The following is a transcript of the video

Shirley: Let me see you catwalk. Now let me see you walk in them. That’s the most important thing. Let me see you walk. Oh, get it! Get it.

I started serving the homeless of Skid Row with another organization, and as we passed out food, the women were more interested in my hair color and my makeup, and they used to compliment me going, “Oh, my God, we love your makeup,” or “We love your hair color,” or “You smell so good.” And after a couple months, it hit me that, “Wow, women are still interested in these things,” and I realized that at their core, they’re still women.

Beauty2thestreetz is its own organization. I have volunteers, and we alone service the homeless of Skid Row and the backstreets of Los Angeles, California. I knew I wanted to help others, but I didn’t know where I fit in, and when I found out that women on the streets were still interested in hair and makeup and just anything that an average woman would need, that’s when I realized this is what I should be doing: giving back to the women of Skid Row. Skid Row is an area of Los Angeles, California, that’s populated by the homeless.

I not only service Skid Row. There are back areas of LA where people can’t get to Skid Row. Skid Row has resources. They have housing. They have a few showers. They have bathrooms. There are side streets and backstreets where people who are handicapped or in wheelchairs or it’s just too far to make it, they can’t get to to Skid Row, and they can’t get to the resources. So not only do I service Skid Row, I service all the backstreets of LA. I drive all around looking for those people who are in need. When a woman comes to my chair and she says that she wants her hair done, she’ll sit down, and it’s almost like she’s apologetic for her hair being dirty or she’s apologetic for her hair being matted together, and I’m like, “It’s OK, that’s why we’re here. We’re here to help you change your look if that’s what you want.” So when the women sit in the chair, I show them the mirror as the process is going on. You should see their face change, and their smile, and they light up. They’re like, “Oh, my God! Is that me?” I can see the confidence building as they’re in the chair, and the process isn’t even complete. I can see as their hair color is changing or as they have the plastic cap on their head. They just feel special. They feel like there’s something other than the circumstances and the situation that they’re in at that time.

I think that makeup and hair and showers builds self-esteem, and I think like anyone, when your self-esteem is high, you feel like you can do anything, and getting off the streets has to be one of the hardest things that they are going to face in their life or encounter in their life. So feeling good is the first step to healing. So I think makeup, hair, showers, just conversation, friendship, and food, anything that makes you feel good is the first step of healing. Get it Mama, get it. OK, come on.

The men and women of Skid Row are not just all drug addicts and alcoholics. These are actually people who fell on hard times. They lost their job. They had an illness that they couldn’t keep up with their bills, so they lost their housing. They planned on sleeping in their car until their car was repossessed. I have vets on the street. I take care of a woman that has a Ph.D. I think that we have to break the stereotypes of what homelessness is, and not all the people that are homeless are without jobs. They just are without a home. There are many levels of poverty as there are many levels of wealth. I think it’s important for people to understand that just because someone is without a home doesn’t change who they are at their core. Women are still women. Everyone wants to feel beautiful. Everyone wants to feel special. Every woman wants to look in the mirror and see something different than their circumstances and their hardship and their situation.

I love what I do because I know how it feels to be down. I know how it feels to be alone. I know how it feels to have no self-esteem. I know how it is to desire and want things as a woman that you can’t obtain for yourself because you don’t have the funding. You just can’t obtain it for yourself. So it’s important for me to give back because I once was that person, and I know how it changed my life.

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