When you work in the beauty business, it can be easy to forget that in some areas of the world, hair cuts, massages, pedicures and other services are unimaginable luxuries.
Denise Wetherell, stylist and owner of Shear Creations in West Linn, Oregon, has found a way to take some of these salon services and turn them into a fund-raising opportunity through her Pamper for a Purpose event. And this year, she received a third-prize of $1,000 from Wella’s Hairdressers At Heart Charity Challenge to put towards her cause.
Now in it’s third year, the event was moved to Director’s Park in downtown Portland this July for a larger turnout. From 2pm-7pm, attendees were able to enjoy massages, hair care, manicures and other pampering services alongside music and art projects for a suggested donation of $20.
“We had many practitioners, most of which were licensed massage therapists and acupuncturists, but we also had a make-up booth and three stylists this year, two from my salon,” says Wetherell.
The proceeds benefit the women and girls in Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo through Jewish World Watch, a leading organization in the fight against genocide and mass atrocities.
“The pampering I do is the extreme opposite of what the people in Darfur and the DR Congo experience in their daily life,” says Wetherell. “I can’t imagine the struggle they face. We are so lucky to be here—I had to do something,” she says of founding the event.
Alongside her pampering practitioners was a silent auction with donations from local businesses to help create a safe environment for the women and girls in Darfur and the DR Congo. Live music, a raffle and face painting for kids rounded out the event.
Wetherell also provided information on how to help in Darfur and the DR Congo, including a demonstration of solar cookers.
“Pamper for a Purpose will help purchase these from the donated proceeds of the event,” says Wetherell. “They will enable women in refugee camps to cook much-needed meals without making dangerous treks out of the camps that may subject them to unimaginable violence.”
The event had between 800-1,000 people come through and made it onto the local news twice in the evening and once in the morning.
“We had Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici speak and three refugees share their experience and stories of the DR Congo and Darfur,” says Wetherell. “We also had a very powerful poem read called, ‘When I Was Thirteen’ by three young women.”
Seeing practitioners, local businesses and attendees come together was the most rewarding part of Wetherell’s day.
“We all have the potential to create change for the people of Darfur and the DR Congo,” she says. “It gives them something to hold onto until shifting times create a better space for Darfuris and DR Congolese people. Doing something is better than doing nothing at all,” she adds.
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.