Beauty Bus gives compassion, hope to California hospital patients

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- When you step inside St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, patient care comes with a human touch.

On a weekly basis, the Beauty Bus Foundation and its volunteers visit St. John's, offering beauty and grooming services free of charge. Services include haircuts, manicures, pedicures and facials.

"When people experience a serious illness, the day-to-day rigors of managing the condition can overshadow all but the most basic of needs," said co-founder Wendy Marantz Levine.

"Patients and caregivers quickly lose their sense of identity, becoming absorbed by their condition. Beauty Bus allows people to reconnect with their sense of self and who they are outside of their illness," Marantz Levine said.

St. John's cancer patient Mason Saldana was introduced to the Beauty Bus volunteers by a friend.

"I felt my face was more glowing, more moist, more alive, more healthy," said Saldana.

Saldana, who is now tumor-free after receiving eight rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, speaks highly of the Beauty Bus staff. "The beauty bus people were very comforting, loving and compassionate."

"They can have this pampering touch that doesn't come from a doctor, doesn't come from a nurse, that doesn't hurt, that's not a shot," said Marantz Levine.

Marantz Levine founded the organization in memory of her sister, Melissa Marantz Nealy, who suffered from a degenerative neuromuscular disease.

"I would recommend this to everyone, if you haven't done it, you should," said Saldana.

To date, Beauty Bus Foundation has touched the lives of almost 15,000 people.
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