Shirley Raines has been offering the homeless community of Skid Row a helping hand, dignity, and beauty services for the past three years, through her nonprofit Beauty 2 The Streetz.
It wasn’t long until she realized that the women, in particular, were interested in hair and makeup, and she decided to lend a helping hand there.
“Of course makeup is not going to take them off the streets, but it’s going to make them feel better… its a small escape from this terrible reality they’re living in,” Raines told the news station. “They look in the mirror and see something other than homelessness. It just brings them back to who they were.”
Raines travels from Long Beach to Skid Row every weekend to offer her services. She takes the time to cook for 400-600 people every week in her one-bedroom apartment, all while working a full-time job and being a mother of six.
“Monday through Friday, someone is saying ‘get out of the way, you bum,’ ‘no, you can’t have this, you bum,’ ‘you’re a nuisance.’ On Saturday, someone is saying, ‘you’re important. You’re special,'” Raines said, explaining what drives her.
“The reality of Skid Row is that it took a long time…to earn that trust. I’m asking someone to close their eyes, lay their head back and be vulnerable,” she added. “It took years of coming back every single Saturday.”
Raines noted that her deep connection to serving the people on Skid Row comes from her own hardships, and almost being homeless herself.
“I’m a woman who actually lived this life in the streets, buried a child, went through traumatic relationships, was almost homeless myself, picked myself up, been working in the medical field for 26 years. I’m still very much ghetto, but I survived that,” Raines said. “I’m able to say, ‘I get it. I understand. But you’ve got to just get through it.'”