Weatherford Democrat

November 13, 2012

Women get life makeovers through salon event

Margarita Venegas
Weatherford Democrat

WEATHERFORD — The excited chatter of a little more than 60 women filled Reflections Salon and Day Spa Thursday night as dozens of the ladies got new haircuts, pedicures, manicures and other spa services. The best part was that it was all free.

The evening event, which took place after the salon closed and in partnership with Strands Salon, Debonair Salon and the Weatherford College Cosmetology program, was part of an ongoing project which started at Center of Hope and now includes women receiving services at Grace House Ministries.

The brainchild of Grace House Pregnancy Center Director Laura Brownlow and Weatherford College’s Cosmetology Department Director Valerie Hopkins, the semi-annual program had humble beginnings.

“We used to have it in the computer classroom at Center of Hope,” said Brownlow, who worked at the center prior to her job at Grace House. “One of the first years we had roasting pans – women were soaking their feet in them for the pedicures.”

That was three years and five “spa nights” ago and with the help of the salons, the program was able to grow and take place at a real salon this year.

Guided by God, Brownlow said that while at Center of Hope, she saw so many of the clients who came in needing help, visibly affected by the rough hand life had dealt them. As they learned job skills, she had an idea that they should learn, too, how to apply makeup, how to style their hair in different ways and how to let their inner beauty shine outward.

She contacted Hopkins, who knew that the spa night concept would help her students.

“With this, they get the opportunity for a real-life salon experience,” Hopkins noted as her students chatted in the background with clients, trying to figure out what kinds of styles the ladies wanted and work with them.

It also helps her students give back to the community and just “be there” for others who need some help, Hopkins said.

For one Center of Hope volunteer, that message hit home when she found herself needing client services.

Mary King had been laid off from her job when she went through a spa night.

Being pampered and learning how to properly apply makeup, get a new hairstyle and partake in luxury services such as manicures and pedicures makes a woman feel like she’s worthy of having a good life, King said.

Now that she has a job, she still enjoys participating in the spa nights to see the joy it brings others, she said.

“Women take care of everyone else first,” said King.

With the spa nights, the women get a chance to take a break from family and feel good about themselves, she said, noting that the event is about boosting their self-esteem.

It also gives the women in transition stages of their lives a goal to shoot for, King said.

“I think this gives them a chance to see the good life,” she said, “the kind that they want to work for.”

King, who also taught at the Parker County Jail, saw a woman she used to teach who was pregnant at the time of her incarceration. Sitting in a salon chair at spa night, the woman was beaming, talking about her child and her marriage. It was nice to hear about how life is now on the upswing for her, King said. The women in these programs are trying to make their lives better and deserve this kind of night, she said.

Although apprehensive at first about expanding the spa night program to a different location and including so many women, Brownlow said that she received support from those who know her – and know just how important this event is.

The expansion with the help of the salons will serve the women better, a friend told Brownlow, because it makes the experience more real to them.

“They need to know that they’re worth it,” Brownlow said.