Wella's Charity Challenge: The Wig Bank of Caldwell County
What started as David Icard’s desire to help women battling cancer with wig styling at Bold and Beautiful salon, which he co-owns with Chris Sams in Lenoir, North Carolina, has grown into a community-supported house that warmly welcomes women, men and children cancer patients, hosts support group meetings and launches education program.
Icard loves owning a small-town salon and getting to know his clientele. “We have women who have been clients for many years, and we’ve been with them as they grew up, gotten married and had families of their own,” he says. “It really does become a friendship and we wanted to make a difference and give something back to the community who helped build our business, and we wanted to do it in a way where we could really give back.”
Over the years, working with Look Good Feel Better and cancer patients in the community, Icard and the salon became instrumental in launching The Wig Bank of Caldwell County. The organization put together a board of directors and purchased a house where cancer victims could gather for support group meetings. While being located next door to the Cancer Center was convenient, the house offers a home-like setting where cancer patients could escape the clinical setting of the hospital.
With the advantage of being located in the furniture capitol of the U.S., the group secured help from a number of local furniture manufacturers, who each sponsored and decorated a room in The Wig Bank house. “Now there’s a living room with a fireplace, a kitchen and a dining room, and the bedroom has been turned into a meeting room,” says Icard. “Downstairs, we have a big screen TV and pool table four our males, who are either patients themselves or are the loved ones of a patient coming for a support group meeting.”
Today, the home, which is frequently staffed by a nurse from the hospital, is supported by a number of cancer support groups, including Look Good Feel Better, Arm in Arm, Futures Unlimited, Reach to Recovery, I Can Cope, Just Us Guys, CHIPS (a group for children patients and their families), as well as a music therapy program, restorative yoga, and a support group for caregivers.
Since the Bold and Beautiful became involved with cancer-related programs, 25 children in the area have been diagnosed with cancer. So, The Wig Bank decided to launch some programming through the local high schools to help with education and early detection. “For example, there’s a program for young women which teaches them how to do a breast examine and what breast cancer feels like; and there’s a separate class for young men which educates them about testicular cancer.”
“We started out years ago selling hot dogs to raise money and now we’re hosting large-scale events at the country club to help pay for the wigs, gas cards for children who have to travel to special medical clinics, as well as to help pay off the house,” says Icard. Over the years, The Wig Bank program has received some impressive national recognition, including America Cancer Society’s Golden Scissor Award; the 2008 Governor’s Award for Volunteers; the 2009 National Acts of Caring Award and the American Cancer Society Sunrise Award. Recently, Icard captured a first-place grant of $5,000 from Wella’s Hairdressers at Heart Charity Challenge.
"We are so excited to know we have our professional beauty manufacturers behind us, and we plan to use the grant money to help purchase wigs and continue the education programs for the children. The educational material for these programs is very expensive,” says Icard. “We’re also working on what’s been the hardest task so far – to develop educational programming that reaches out to men.”
Around town, the Bold and Beautiful has become known as “the salon with a heart,” says Icard. “And, while that doesn’t hurt our business, it isn’t why we started doing it. But it’s certainly inspiring when someone comes up to you and thanks you for helping their mom, grandmother or friend.”
In 2013, Wella's Hairdressers at Heart Charity Challenge awarded 20 finalists with grants that totalled $43,000. The next Wella“Supports Your Cause” Charity Challenge will commence in the spring of 2014. For more information and updates, please visit hairdressersatheart.com.