Glam-A-THon for senior’s

Seniors spruce up with free makeovers in Simi

By Alicia Doyle

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Soon after her husband died, Karoline Navarrete was encouraged by her children to take advantage of free haircuts, makeup and manicures offered through a volunteer charitable effort at the Simi Valley Senior Center.

“My husband just passed away and my kids said, ‘Go. It will make you feel better,’ ” said Navarrete, of Simi Valley. “They were right. It feels good getting my hair and nails done. It’s uplifting. It’s also a good chance for me to socialize because some of the people here I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Navarrete was among almost 200 older adults who received free beauty services Wednesday through an effort spearheaded by Ridone Inc., a nonprofit that offers free “compassionate cosmetology” services to the needy. The effort involved teams of volunteers, including Kiwanis members from Simi Valley and Santa Clarita, as well as more than 40 students from the Simi Valley Adult School of Cosmetology. Simi Valley Mayor Bob Huber also paid a visit in support of the cause.

“It’s good experience for us — plus it’s so much fun,” said 22-year-old Navpreet Saini, a student at the school of cosmetology. “I love to see the smiles on their faces when I do their hair.”

The effort provides companionship to seniors who may be alone during the holidays, said Ridone Inc. founder Don Knypstra, of Chatsworth.

“Many seniors get the holiday blues, having depression due to financial limitations, loss of independence, being alone or separated from love ones,” he said.

Wednesday’s event showed seniors that someone appreciates them during the holidays, Knypstra said. “Events like this let seniors know that they have not been forgotten.”

“Most are on fixed incomes and cannot afford luxuries such as hairstyling services, make up applications or manicures,” said Laurie Dickinson, senior services manager at the Simi Valley Senior Center.

Many of the seniors who received makeovers had plans to attend the senior center’s Thanksgiving eve dinner later.

“This will give them an opportunity to show off their new look,” Dickinson said. “In this younger-oriented society, older people many times feel marginalized. Having the time and attention these wonderful volunteers donate to them … improves their feeling of self-worth.”

In other event highlights, each senior also received a complimentary photo shoot so they could keep a snapshot of their fresh look. “This type of generosity helps seniors feel appreciated and gives them a reason to be thankful,” Dickinson said. “It gives the volunteers that warm, fuzzy, firsthand experience of making a difference in someone’s life.”

Simi Valley resident Earl Kitchen, 78, suffered a fall in May that left him with a neck injury that prevented him from going to the barber. “If I have to move my head in a barber’s chair, it’s painful,” said Kitchen, who served in the Air Force in Korea and worked professionally at Rocketdyne.

Though reluctant at first to get a free haircut due to his injury, Kitchen agreed with prompting from Dickinson, who asked Knypstra to do the job.

“He did a good job without putting me in pain,” Kitchen said. “My head feels much lighter.”

“Efforts like this are so important in today’s challenging times,” said Knypstra, who quoted Ronald Reagan in 1988 on National Senior Citizens Day. ” ‘For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute.’ “

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