Most of us take for granted the simple pleasure of showering before we get ready…
On February 13, 2018, Jeanne Lewis Albaugh and Joe Trembly of Showering Love orchestrated a Valentines Day Makeover, the transformation of 10 people who were experiencing homelessness.
In the weeks leading up to the Valentines Day Makeover, Showering Love put together numerous fundraising events that would allow us the privilege of providing makeovers to 5 women and 5 men who are living in a homeless encampment in Fort Lauderdale.
We began our day bright and early, and with 2 professional photographers in tow, we picked up our wonderful guests and began our journey on a day filled with lots of love, tears of joy, and stories that will remain with us for a lifetime. Transportation was provided by the Davie Community Worship Center.
Our first stop was to Grace, our mobile shower for people experiencing homelessness. As we were driving to Grace, Jeanne and Joe shared with our new friends on whom Showering Love was and why we had chosen to spend this day with them. Showering Love was created to restore hope and dignity to those most in need. We want to be able to provide a path to self-sufficiency. On this day, we are sharing hope with our guests because both Jeanne and Joe have experienced homelessness and we know what is possible. Many of the guests shared with us that they had awakened early in anticipation of this day and just the fact that we showed up at the time we said we would, they knew they could trust us. With the exception of 2 people, nobody really knew who we were or what all was in store for them on our Valentines Makeover Day.
We arrived at Grace and provided delicious bagels and coffee to everyone, courtesy of Chase Permitting Services, LLC and Crista Coasta. After the formalities of liability releases were signed, each of our guests received a Showering Love T-shirt and a pair of either Capri or sweat pants. We also handed out specially made Bombas socks. In fact, Bombas socks are the greatest sock on the planet. While our guests waited to shower, we got a chance to get to know them more personally. Our guests each have unique and heartwarming stories. Jeanne and Joe knew that today would be a day of transformation, but even we couldn’t have imagined the impact it was going to have on our new friends.
From the showers, we headed over to Nail Trix, in Davie, FL, so our guests could have a pedicure. The smile on everyone’s faces was confirmation that we were on the right track for the Valentines Day Makeover. Some of our guests had never had a pedicure and their experience was beyond anything they could have ever imagined. One of our guests said he wished he could marry his nail technicians. Joe expressed to our guests that we all know how important our feet our; especially when living on the street. Joe said, “Your feet take you wherever you go, whenever you want, and that Showering Love knew how important it would be to shower love on your feet on this day.” The bagels had since been digested and everyone was getting hungry. Now it was time for lunch.
We left Nail Trix and headed over to Veterans Park in Davie, FL and were met by Gary Snow of ArcBroward who provided a delicious lunch of grilled chicken breasts, pigs in a blanket, rice, vegetables, salad, bread and cookies. Everyone enjoyed their lunch overlooking the peaceful background of the lake. This was a perfect setting for “breaking bread” with our friends. With everyone’s bellies full, it was time to get back in the van and head to stop number 3.
We arrived at Salon Mixx in Davie, FL Many stylists from Salon Mixx donated their time to provide the women with new hair styles that included makeup. The men had the honor of being pampered by Joe Da Barber of Barber’s Edge in Jupiter, FL, who drove 70 miles to Salon Mixx for this special day. We are indebted to Sommer Williams of Salon Mixx who so graciously donated the salon’s time and talents. Each of our guests were given individualized and personal service to whatever style they wanted for themselves. The mirrors were covered which kept everyone from seeing the progress on their hair or makeup. As each guest was turned around in their chair to see their transformation for the first time, you could smiles everywhere. Our guest looked absolutely stunning but better than looking amazing; each person told us how amazing they felt. One of our guests stated that he had forgotten how good he looked. The women loved their hair and their makeup. In addition to hair and makeup, the Hispanic Unity of Florida, came by Salon Mixx and conducted interviews for possible job opportunities for our guests. At one point, Jeanne and Joe just stood in awe as we realized that Showering Love’s mission was truly being fulfilled today. We are changing lives! By this time the afternoon was pressing on and we all needed a little pick me up.
Next stop…Dunkin Donuts! We stopped for some coffee or any other beverage our guests wanted. We keep mentioning the smiles, but we have to tell you that watching our guests smile as they were being treated to something special at each stop is something that we will remember forever. Though many may take a stop at Dunkin Donuts for granted, at Showering Love we know that often a cup of coffee may take standing on the corner for hours to collect enough change just to enjoy some fresh coffee. We listened to our guests talking about their do so far and could hear them saying how much they appreciated us showing them that they really mattered. Now that everyone got their second wind, it was time to go shopping for new clothes and shoes. What’s a total makeover without something new to wear?
Our next to the final stop was at Walmart in Davie, FL. Jeanne and Ashley Bencivenga along with the photographer Cheryl accompanied the women, and Joe and Max, our other photographer, accompanied the men on this shopping adventure. It was exciting watching each of our guests look for the perfect outfit. We encouraged everyone to dress in a manner that would benefit them for a job interview. Each of our guests found just the right outfit and shoes and looked absolutely stunning. And, let’s not forget the smiles! Not only did everyone look good, but they felt good about themselves. Watching this transformation was truly a humbling experience. What could possibly be left to do after such an amazing day? Did someone say dinner?
Our final stop for the day was at Billy’s Tavern/Restaurant in Davie, FL. The owner of Billy’s Tavern, Kristine Braunstein, created a wonderful space and experience for our guests. A private dining area was set up and on the tables were red roses, chocolates, candies…the perfect mood for such a perfect day.