At the Giving Hands beauty salon in Tampa, a monthly tradition begins with a prayer. Owner Vanessa Howard, her five daughters and several other volunteers gather once a month for a special day.
The team gives a free day of pampering, including lunch, gift baskets, facials, manicures and hairdos for women who are homeless. Homelessness is an experience Vanessa understands all too well.
“I was once homeless and I was suicidal when I was homeless with three children. I didn’t have a place to go,” Howard said.
Howard found her way back through faith. Now her profession is also her ministry. She says the monthly makeovers at her salon on N Dale Mabry Highway can help boost women’s confidence and help them find their way, too.
“It’s not easy to do this every month. But every month, we’re driven by the passion of seeing their lives from the inside out,” Vanessa said.
In August, Howard hosted a princess day for a younger group: homeless girls between the ages of 7 and 11. Those girls received the same VIP treatment, as well as being provided with school uniforms.
“I’m very humbled,” Howard said. “I’m very grateful. I’m grateful because, you know, even when I’m serving these women it takes me back from where I came from. You know. I’m very humbled. I’m very grateful.”