“Would you like a style today?” I asked her. She shook her head, “No, I have to go.” She left in a hurry. And so, the afternoon went like that. Several times she would come to the doorway, pop her head in, but not step through the threshold, almost as if there was something in the room that she could no participate in. Each time I would ask about a different service, “Would you like a manicure?”, “Would you like a smooth style?”, “Twists?” Each time I was met with a shaking of the head and, “No, I have to go.”

We had set up for our last cutting event for the year at ROOTS Community Health Center.

We had just finished setting up our tables with mirrors and supplies, the music played Jawaiian Jams on Spotify through the bluetooth speaker we bring along. Two stylists, one of them new, already had guests in their chairs, and they were busy cutting and talking. I was checking people in at the door when a woman for the fourth time whisked herself to the doorway.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to get a style?” I pointed to Natasha and said, she is one of the best stylists around town. She could maybe do some corn rows or something.”

As the guest looked in the hand mirror and let Julie’s words sink in, her big brown eyes wept. “Thank you so much.”

As the guest looked in the hand mirror and let Julie’s words sink in, her big brown eyes wept. “Thank you so much.”

She paused, then powered over to Natasha’s chair, which was empty, almost as if she was pushed from the back. She set her bags of stuff down, then Natasha consulted with her, asking questions to figure out what style to give her, all the while, she sprayed and combed her hair out with a hair pick, then dried it with a comb attachment on her dryer. Within 45 minutes, Natasha, with great deft, woven the reluctant guests’ hair into an intricate swirl pattern, ending with a tuft of hair at the top.

On the other side of the table, the new volunteer, Julie was barbering away on another guest. She looked over at Natasha’s guest and lit up, “Wow, you look like the queen you are.” As the guest looked in the hand mirror and let Julie’s words sink in, her big brown eyes wept. “Thank you so much.” Julie came around the table and embraced her, Natasha standing in back of her, holding her, “You are welcome, you deserve it.”

Although I remember many of the faces of the wondrous spirits we get to serve each week, there is always at least one person that stays with me. Whether a phrase they used, a mannerism, or a feeling that evoked a thousand words, the image of them lingers. This woman wanted so badly to sit down and let herself have a service. But for many of the vulnerable people living on our streets and maybe her as well, they need to see if they can trust us. Trust has to be established first. I’m glad she allowed herself to feel beautiful and be served.