LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Personal tragedy, years of struggle and now unemployment? The combination of life’s challenges would have most of us crawling into a corner.
But one woman from Long Beach is putting hard times into perspective with root beer floats and beauty makeovers.
In this installment of “People Making A Difference,” CBS2 anchor Pat Harvey introduces us to an inspiring woman who epitomizes the phrase “giving back.”
“They love the sound of the hogs coming down the street,” says Shirley Raines.
Hogs in this case are motorcycles. And the sound of them rumbling down the street on Saturday mornings is a wake up call for the homeless on Skid Row — a signal of a fresh start and comfort on the way.
They know root beer and orange floats are coming. And hair care. Eyeglasses.
The touches that let them know people care. The homeless line up patiently every week for Raines and her team of devoted volunteers.
A volunteer says, “We’ve got mouth wash, body spray, a loofah, a nail kit, and a pair of socks.”
Raines started the non-profit, “Beauty 2 The Streetz” after years of volunteering with other organizations that feed the homeless.
She now feeds them with food and other things.
“And they’re like “We love your hair color and your make-up and I was like thank you Queen, and it never occurred to me like, wait, are you asking for those things?'” Raines says.
It’s not like Raines is rich in terms of finances. She cashed in all her Sephora points for make-up and hit the 99 Cents Only Store for hygiene and hair care products and literally brought “Beauty 2 The Streetz.”
The giving back makes her rich in other ways.
“Gosh, not all queens live in castles, some live on the streets and like I said, who doesn’t want to dress up? Who doesn’t want to play make believe? And you don’t have to have a house to do such things,” Raines says.
Raines found a way to create a pop-up sidewalk salon with sinks, shampoo, chairs and hot water she brings from home.
“We bring every kind of hair color there is because people want choices,” she says, matter-of-fact.
Raines credits all the donors and volunteers who found her on Instagram and show up to provide security, cuts and dye jobs. There are also servers to help give out the meals she cooks in her own tiny kitchen — 5-600 meals. Repeating — in her tiny kitchen.
The kitchen so small, she said on Instagram, “It literally can only cook one pan at a time. This is how small my stove is.”
Raines knows she’s not changing the world, the homeless still go back to their tents. But she does get to distract them from homelessness once a week for a short time.
“After this I go home and bask in the glory of how many smiles we got, how many people we made happy. And I’m writing a list for next week,” Raines says.
She lives for the “thank yous” and there are many.
“Beauty 2 The Streetz” is a non-profit organization. If you’d like to volunteer or donate, click here for more information.