Life can be pretty tough when you’re homeless – people won’t look you in the eye, society pretends you don’t exist, and clueless haters tell you to “get a job,” as if it were really that easy. It’s even more of a challenge to keep your head held up high when you’re both homeless and a single mother.
Twenty years ago, Vanessa Howard found herself on the streets after escaping from domestic abuse. Vanessa had long ago left her dysfunctional childhood home behind, which meant that relying on her “family” was not an option. She had no one else to turn to when she grabbed her kids and ran away from the violence.
Despite all the hardships Vanessa had to face, the caring mother was still totally focused on finding a safe place for her kids to live. Unfortunately, the harsh realities of life reared its ugly head when landlord after landlord shut the door in poor Vanessa’s face.
The depressed mother of three only had $1.75 to her name according to CBS News, and sadly, she was suicidal as a result of her desperate circumstances. Tired of being homeless and alone, Vanessa cried out in frustration and prayed for help to come her way.
The day after Vanessa pleaded to the heavens above, something different happened. When she hopped onto a city bus with her three daughters to search for an apartment, she wholeheartedly expected to get another rejection. Instead, the surprised mother met her savior.
As kids, we’re all taught not to trust strangers, especially the ones who are trying to entice you with a bag of candy. Knowing when to avoid the “kindness” of strangers is a street-smart skill that can keep you out of harm’s way. However, sometimes those strangers can turn out to be good Samaritans, and the only sweet thing they want to give you is hope.
Although Vanessa had only just met the apartment manager that fateful day, it didn’t take long for her to figure out that this sweet stranger was the answer to her prayers. He was the only person willing to give Vanessa both a chance and a place to live.
Vanessa told CBS News:
“He was like, ‘I don’t know you, but I feel like you should have this place.’ It was from there that I found hope and restoration. I just wanted to pay it forward.”
Twenty years later, she still remembers the man who helped her when she needed it the most. Because of his kindness, Vanessa was led down a path that eventually enabled her to open up her own hair salon. There’s just one catch – her beauty studio comes with a unique twist.
Vanessa knows exactly how it feels to be a homeless woman struggling to survive. Unfortunately, it’s hard to maintain your self-esteem and feel good about yourself when you don’t know where your next shower will come from. When you aren’t able to adhere to regular self-care routines, it basically means that every day can turn into a bad hair day.
As a way of paying it forward, Vanessa came up with a brilliant plan. She gives back to the community by opening up her Giving Hands Beauty Salon in Tampa, Florida once a month to homeless women and girls. She comes in on a Sunday, which is normally her day off, to give these ladies a stylish makeover – free of charge! Vanessa also has an army of volunteers, including her five daughters, who help out by providing free facials and manicures. According to CBS News, when the new school year approaches, Vanessa gives girls between the ages of 5 and 11 a fabulous “back to school princes’s party.” These lucky little ladies are also given brand new school supplies so that they have everything they need to excel in their studies.
Vanessa thinks spending her “day off” pampering these girls is worth every minute, and she especially loves it when they break out into a big smile after catching sight of themselves in the mirror. Their newfound confidence is the best part of the makeover! Due to its success and popularity, Vanessa plans to continue this back-to-school tradition for many years to come.
Wow, what an incredible woman! Although Vanessa didn’t have an easy start in life, she firmly believes that her earlier experiences gave her the ability to do what she’s doing now, which is helping out those in need. Watch the video below to find out more about this homeless makeover project.
Vanessa Howard was homeless, a single mother of three and suicidal.Thanks to the kindness of a stranger, she turned her life around.Now she's working to pay it forward, one makeover at a time with Giving Hands Foundation .Please share her story…let's spread the good vibes.STORY HERE: http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/region-tampa/local-woman-giving-free-back-to-school-makeovers-to-homeless-girls
Posted by Laura Harris – The Now Tampa Bay on Wednesday, August 2, 2017