LAUDERHILL — Wanda Anderson and Michelle Bair grew up in different worlds. Anderson, who is black, hails from Pompano. Bair, who is white, calls Jacksonville home. But through circumstance called homelessness, their worlds collided on a path that can lead to depression, anger and gross stress.
On Wednesday, they got a bit of respite.
Anderson and Bair were among nearly a dozen women who received free facials and makeovers at LifeNet4Families, a service agency that mainly provides food and basic services for homeless women and families in Broward County.
The session was a welcome change for Anderson, 54, who said she’s had an extended rough patch with homelessness and health issues. A few days before, she was discharged from Broward General, where doctors ordered she wear a C-Pack monitor — a challenge for
someone who has no place to live.
“With all the other issues I have, right then I wasn’t thinking about nothing. I was smiling from cheek to cheek,” Anderson said. “It makes you feel different for a moment. I haven’t smiled and felt good about myself for a while.”
LifeNet provided the services as part of an observance for Breast cancer awareness month. In between getting information about the health condition, that strikes more than 230,000 women per year. The agency, founded in 1985, touts its mission as providing a seamless system of care, in Broward County, to reduce the pain and suffering of individuals and families in poverty by providing necessary food, ancillary services and referrals.
This means serving approximately 70,000 individuals and families annually, helping them obtain food and other basics. While reducing hunger is the primary goal, spokeswoman Monica Cupid said agency staffers also help clients regain or maintain stability by providing clients with access to on-site shower facilities, haircuts,
clothing, counseling, referrals, job readiness preparation, emergency financial assistance, mailing address usage, and mail retrieval services.
The face makeover session, a joint effort between Mary Kay Beauty Consultant, La Verne Wilkins and LifeNet4Families, paired the women with makeup artists in a session that is part makeover, part makeup therapy during breast cancer awareness month.
Clients were treated amid the signature pink atmosphere, while receiving literature on self-breast examinations, talk with professional consultants, “shop” for clothing, and feel empowered to regain control of their appearance, and in doing so, improve their confidence.
“It’s just a way to make you feel pretty,” said Lisa Frederick, Director of Programs/Administration at LifeNet4Families. “We all want to feel pretty.” It may seem like a small thing, but a makeover can make a big difference,” she said. “They’ll go through the session and they’ll just, for that brief moment, feel empowered that at least tomorrow they can face life again and keep going.”
A year ago, Bair, 42, lived with her father in Lake Worth, until their home went into foreclosure. Now, she said, she lives out of a car in the Lauderhill area with her boyfriend, Gary. Dizziness and blurred vision from a head injury caused by a car crash several years ago makes it tricky to walk along South Florida streets. For transportation, she sometimes relies on a bicycle. She’s hoping to regain strength and return to work at Publix, where she once worked as a customer service clerk.
Like Anderson, Bair said the makeover was uplifting.
“Once it was all finished, it was such a good feeling. You could see how much better we felt about ourselves.” Bair said. “Being able to do something for yourself in this tough time is uplifting. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the streets and you don’t always get positive vibes. It’s tough being homeless. “
Anderson said she’s hoping to live. As of now she’s living on the street, except for times when friends let her stay for a few days. “I have my clothes in the bushes and all that,” she said.
Ironically, Anderson said she just happened to stop by LifeNet on spa day.
“Most time I just come to eat. I peeked in, and saw all the pink,” she said. “I needed something to lift me up. I was slumped down, because I’m thinking of death and health.”
The makeup session took her mind off her woes. “I was the jazziest woman … putting on eye shadow, lip stick. We were having such a good time I forgot my problems.”