Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thank You

Three years ago a phone call changed my life. After a painful, soul-searching year in Tobago and Miami, I promised the universe that I would commit to volunteer work. Having just moved back to NYC, a friend reached out and said she had two gallons of shampoo and conditioner from her salon that she needed to give away.

I saw this as my opportunity to fulfill my promise to the universe. I googled “homeless shelters for women.” The first one that popped up was A call was made.

When I met with the staff, which included Alyssa Montaya, I was nervous, vulnerable and emotional, but eager to listen to the voice in my head that was saying, "Ask for help…to help others!" I explained to eager ears that my hope was to share tips on beauty, self love and donate gift bags. I also explained a little bit about my own personal history and struggle with feelings of self worth and selfishness.

I explained that I would not be doing makeovers, but an inner beauty makeover. Beauty makeovers are wonderful and give people an incredible lift, but what happens next? Most of the time, our clients can't afford the products, don't have the time or the skill. How about giving them something they can build off of…a feeling of support from a stranger in the beauty industry helping them feel better as a person first.

The staff expressed similar values around how we should view our fellow brothers and sisters. It was very clear that I was in safe hands. Someone said, "First, we love the idea and are very open to seeing how it progresses. Our clients are very important to us and their well-being and safety comes first."

Those words were music to my ears and heart, but one word stood out…"clients." They did not say, people, women, or homeless. They said clients.

Since that first encounter, has been a pillar in my life. A pillar of support, respect and a prime example of how people should be treated no matter their race, class or sexual orientation.

Their commitment to protecting their clients showed itself in many ways. From their willingness to help volunteers, the availability to listen to ideas, the sensitivity to their clients needs and by just being open to me as an individual.

Over the years, together we have held a multitude of different workshops.  From yoga for teenage girls with, yoga for adults, personal fitness for women, skincare for teenage girls, fashion parties for both mothers and their teenage daughters (where we have personal shoppers helping each woman choose a beautiful outfit from clothes that were donated) and support for women in recovery from addiction.

But most of all, WIN gave me a gift that was priceless. They not only helped me grow as an individual, they helped me heal relationships that I thought I would never mend. They helped me beat my life long depression and have become my family.

As I embark on the next chapter of my life out of NYC, I will take all that you have taught me and apply it to help others around the world.


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