Shirley Raines has a tattoo on her arm that says: “Not all queens live in castles.” Many queens live on the streets, says Raines, who started Beauty2theStreetz, a non-profit that travels to Skid Row every weekend to provide beauty services, showers, food, and friendship to LA’s homeless population.
After the death of one of her children, she turned to volunteer work to “find purpose to my pain,” says Raines. On one occasion, she was serving meals to the homeless in LA. Raines remembers several of the women commenting on her makeup and her hair. That’s when she realized that she could offer them a meal and something more: dignity.
Three years later, Beauty2theStreetz has been out on the streets of Skid Row almost every weekend, serving up meals that Raines cooks in her home every Friday night, and providing showers using water she brings in tubs filled in her own apartment. Additionally, she has recruited dozens of volunteers who serve as hair stylists and make-up artists to homeless men and women. She has even befriended a biker group who stand by her side every weekend to make sure that the crowds don’t get out of control. Raines has created a small community of volunteers and homeless people who look forward to being together on Saturday mornings.
Like the rest of the country, Los Angeles has taken safety measures to protect against the spread of coronavirus, including the recent decision to close all public parks. “The city has asked us to practice social distancing at this time with the homeless due to their compromised immune systems and lack of access to medical care,” Raines told Women in the World. So this past weekend, Raines was handing out meals and hand sanitizer through the back window of her car. Despite recently being laid off from her job, Raines remains committed to serving the homeless and is hoping she can collect more food and hygiene products that can be bagged and distributed without direct contact.
To learn more about Beauty2theStreetz or to make a donation, please visit Beauty2theStreetz.org.
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