Long Beach woman brings beauty to the streets of Skid Row

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Shirley Raines is literally changing the face of homelessness.

For the last three years, the Long Beach local offers beauty services, food, showers and more to the homeless people of Skid Row through her nonprofit organization, Beauty 2 The Streetz.

"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," Raines said. "It took years of coming back every single Saturday."

After losing a child, Raines began feeding the homeless with a different nonprofit in order to give back to the community. She learned quickly that the women she met were interested in hair and makeup.

"Of course makeup is not going to take them off the streets, but its a small escape from this terrible reality they're living in," Raines said. "They look in the mirror and see something other than homelessness. It just brings them back to who they were."

Beauty 2 The Streetz is supported each Saturday by local motorcycle club, Fighters for the World.

"We might rev a little more on Skid Row," said Lock, one of the motorcycle club's founders. "We want to be able to let them know we are here with food."

The mother of six works a full-time job, but somehow, she manages to find the time to cook for 400-600 people every week in her one-bedroom apartment. For Raines, the lack of sleep is worth it.

"Monday through Friday, someone is saying 'get out of the way, you bum.' On Saturday, someone is saying, 'you're important. You're special.'"

Originally from Compton, Raines knows a thing or two about hardship. She feels a deep connection to the women she meets on Skid Row.

"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.'"

Eventually, Raines wants to be able to provide a mobile showering service and a food truck to better serve the people on Skid Row. To learn more about Beauty 2 the Streetz, visit their website.
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