Lauren Wilson was nominated by an anonymous colleague.
Three years ago, while Ms. Wilson was visiting an elementary school, a therapist mentioned a common problem affecting homeless students. These students lacked basic hair care, and many suffered from low self-esteem issues because they wore hoodies or hats to hide their unkempt hair.
Ms. Wilson spoke to her personal hair stylist, who came to the school with two other volunteer stylists and a barber. That was the start of “Operation Hair Care.” Still, with seven other elementary schools in this high poverty district, Ms. Wilson realized a larger effort had to be made to help the district’s children. She contacted a local cosmetology school, where students are transported by bus every marking period for free basic hair care services. These students love getting their make-overs, and the cosmetology students love receiving the handmade cards of thanks that the children make while waiting for everyone to be served, not to mention the experience working with young clients.
The elementary students aren’t the only ones who benefit from Operation Hair Care. Students from the high school who are interested in cosmetology go with the elementary students. While the youngsters are getting their hair washed, cut, and styled, the high school students are in another space where they are doing hands-on exercises and getting a presentation from industry experts about career opportunities.