Day 23 and helping others

Yesterday I had a little trouble focusing on my thoughts. I started out with a rambling ode to blankets then went into some strange story about making blankets for other people as a way of taking care of them. The original idea was to talk about charities and causes that mean a lot to me, that I support and would like to support to greater ends. But I definitely got off track, a little.

So here is part two of that mess.

I have, in recent years, developed quite a substantial soft spot for people whose lives have taken distinct downward turns. Victims of abuse and homeless, most specifically. One … I guess you might call it a pipe dream … I have is to build a home for homeless people who are trying to get back on their feet. There are a lot of details to iron out but the Reader’s Digest version is that I would like to buy an old hotel and renovate it to make it livable, long term.

Why a hotel, you ask. A hotel – an actual hotel, not a motel – would have a kitchen and dining area. Possibly a gym. And likely a ballroom or conference room that could be used for any number of things, such as daycare, computer “lab,” or even to host classes. The important part, really, though is the kitchen and dining area. Part of my idea is the hotel would be a temporarily permanent residence (maybe 6 months to a year) where people could live for free while they look for work and subsequently save what they need to “get back on their feet.” Whatever that means to them. Down payment on a house, first and last on an apartment.

But “free” isn’t exactly free. Every person who lives there has to contribute to the community in some way, by cooking meals, cleaning rooms, taking care of the grounds, running daycare services. Everyone can do something that would help out. When you come into the “residence,” you interview and determine what your duties will be while you are living there. And then you get a room with a permanent address and “apartment” number that you can put on job applications and other documents. You get to eat regular meals in the dining area, sleep in a bed, hang clothes in a closet, shower. Move back toward normalcy.

There are a lot of other details to work out, I realize, but that’s the bare bones of the idea.

I have, effectively, been a hairdresser for three years. At the very least, I have spent three years contemplating ways I can use this new skill to help make the world a better place. Two ideas have come from that. Well, two and a half, simply because a third idea has kind of just recently presented itself and I haven’t fleshed it out yet.

Anyway, the first … Back up, both ideas are really urging me to strike out on my own so that I can set up my own salon to accommodate these ideas but that’s a few miles down the road. In the meantime, this is what I’ve been working on. Free (there’s that word again…) or deeply discounted “make overs” for survivors of 1. sex trafficking and 2. cancer. Ideally, I would have my own salon and work with other businesses to sponsor women by paying for their services. New haircut, color if they want it, facial treatments… again, minor details that would have to be tweaked but that’s the basic idea.

There is already the Look Good, Feel Better organization that does this for cancer survivors and you can become a LGFB registered stylist or salon but I don’t want to limit my services strictly to cancer survivors. I mentioned sex trafficking but also domestic violence survivors, rape survivors… A make over is not a cure all that will make everything better but it can be an amazing step toward a survivor regaining her (or his) self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence and moving toward recovery.

The best things I do at my job right now are transformations. Even if it’s just the Grizzly Adams stand-in who hasn’t seen a brush all winter coming in for his “summer” haircut – which usually means “shave it off.” The transformation from what came in to what leaves makes me feel like I’ve done something productive with my day. What could make that feeling better than to do that to someone who sees a victim every time they look in the mirror? To give them a fresh new look to attach to a fresh new chapter?

This is what I mean when I say I’m a more nurturing person than I often give myself credit for. When I get the impulse to help people, I don’t just grab a ladle and slop soup for a day. I want to create a whole world centered around helping.

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