When Paul Mitchell Schools’ Dean and Cofounder Winn Claybaugh lost his good friend Ann Bowler last year, he wanted to do something to honor her memory. “Ann was 92 years old and an absolute joy to be around,” says Winn. “She was funny, witty, incredibly intelligent, politically and community active, and my best friend. I was very saddened by Ann’s passing, and when my heart aches the only thing I know to do is to get busy and give back.
“During our time together, each and every time I asked Ann if there was anything I could do for her, her one and only response was, ‘Just be my friend.’” Inspired by that simple request, Winn called upon the student-run Be Nice (Or Else!) teams at his 100-plus cosmetology schools to hold “Ann Bowler Day” last December, and it was a resounding success.
This year, he invited them to repeat the event, and the response was overwhelming again. Students and staff members flocked to nursing homes and senior centers across America, singing Christmas carols, bearing small gifts, and offering mini manicures and hairdos. They also made it a point to sincerely thank the nurses, doctors, and caregivers who look after these beautiful people. Most important, they gave the gift of their time, providing love and companionship to their new friends.
“Of all the people I could have taken as my date to the 2009 Paul Mitchell Schools FUNraising dinner, who did I want there with me? My best friend, Ann Bowler,” says Winn. “She loved having her photo taken that night with John Paul DeJoria, Donny Osmond, Leeza Gibbons, and Larry King, and she was captivated by all the magic created by our Paul Mitchell Schools. I’m sure she would be very proud to see the magic our schools now create in her honor.”
Here are just a few examples of the activities held by Paul Mitchell Schools:
• Paul Mitchell The School Las Vegas held a Christmas sing-a-long at a nearby assisted living center.
• Paul Mitchell The School Green Bay’s newest students held a “Mini Mani” event at Woodside Manor in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
• Paul Mitchell The School Cincinnati split into groups and visited three different nursing homes, spreading cheer across the tri-state area.
• Future Professionals from Paul Mitchell The School San Diego sang Christmas carols, played board games, and gave hand massages at a local nursing home. “When we walked in, it was so quiet,” said Be Nice (Or Else!) team leader Lizzy Becknell. “Of course we brought the Paul Mitchell energy in, and within 20 minutes, the entire mood of the nursing home changed.”
• Paul Mitchell The School Arlington visited Oakwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Arlington, Texas, bearing gifts and snacks, singing Christmas carols, and providing manicures. One instructor bought 80 pairs of socks so no one would be left out. “It was such a joy to see the look on the residents' faces as we traveled from room to room, spreading Christmas cheer,” said Be Nice Team Creative Master Misty Staples.
• Paul Mitchell The School Houston started out in two tiny rooms at Parkwood Place nursing home, but the buzz began to spread and their two rooms turned into five, on three different floors.
• Cactus Academy, a Paul Mitchell Partner School in Garden City, New York, has made Ann Bowler day a quarterly tradition. Instructor JoAnne Turano says, “Now all our ‘special friends’ at the Gerwin Nursing Home know about our Be Nice (Or Else!) club and Ann Bowler and what a lovely woman she was.”