Inspired to help the less fortunate during the holidays, salon owner Gisele Guerrero and five stylists from her shop on Larchmont Avenue set up a mobile beauty parlor before New Year’s in the basement of New Rochelle’s HOPE Community Services, which houses the region’s largest food pantry and soup kitchen.
Thirty-eight people arrived throughout the day, all hoping to get a new look for the New Year, for free.
The crowd was made up of single mothers with small children in tow, a 52-year old mother in a wheelchair accompanied by her 17-year-old daughter, many out of work New Rochelle residents and the elderly. Many were frequent visitors to the soup kitchen and pantry.
Helping Ms. Guerrero were stylists Sheila Fernandes, Skylar Baker, Michelle Giordano, Ana Rivera and Gaylene Goss. Also pitching in were Ms. Guerrero’s daughter Priscilla Guerrero and granddaughter Soleil.
Food Needs on the Rise
Carole Troum, the dynamic director of HOPE Community Services, was on hand to extend a warm welcome and even wash some hair. She noted that demand for the food pantry and kitchen was up 67 percent in the past 18 months. The number of bags of food given out on a single pantry day had been 450. “Now we’re up to 650-700 depending on the day. That is a big difference,” she said.
Ms. Troum was extremely appreciative of the hair stylists’ volunteer services. “It’s extraordinarily generous,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful thing for our clients who don’t have access to haircuts or other things that make them feel good about themselves. Giselle treats them with incredible dignity and makes it such fun.”
The First Cut
This was Ms. Guerrero’s fifth hair cutting event at the center. She and a friend had raised over $400 in food and diapers for the pantry last April. When she dropped off the donations at the pantry, Ms. Guerrero was inspired to offer her hair cutting services.
She recalls “not knowing what I have signed myself into.”
Ms. Guerrero explained that many times the “we have clients who haven’t the means or the place to wash their hair. It is a luxury for them.”
It’s hard for the stylists to cut hair without first washing it. “However, we are getting better every time,” Ms. Guerrero reported. Her team now brings donated towels, shampoo and conditioner “for them to go and wash their own hair. It is nice to see them pleased after a fresh hair cut.”
At the last “salon day,” after their haircut and styling, clients received a goody bag full of toiletries donated by L’Oreal and put together by Reverend Herron-Piazza’s 9th grade confirmation class at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Larchmont. As a further surprise, clients received $20 Stop and Shop Gift Cards purchased with a $2000 donation from Ms. Guerrero’s friend, Hector Mena.
To donate to HOPE (Help Our People Eat) call 914.636.4010 or mail check to :
HOPE, 50 Washington Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10801.
Contact Gisele Guerrero, 914-834-1700, if you would like to assist with the next hair cutting event.