May she be richly blessed!
A Los Angeles woman is working overtime to bring the beauty to Skid Row, Good Morning America reports.
Shirley Raines is a makeup artist and hair technician who believes in giving back in a big way! In 1987, Raines’ son Demetrius passed away just days before his third birthday. Years went by and Raines continued to mourn the lost, looking for answers to such an unexpected tragedy. Six years ago, she came across a friend at church who invited her along to feed the homeless. It was there that her endeavor, Beauty 2 The Streetz was born.
“I think it just hit me -- that I’ve got to do something with this pain. I never expected this work to be so healing for me,” said Raines.
She started working with a local charity organization on Skid Row, a neighborhood in downtown L.A. marked by its large unhoused population and poverty. Raines would show up, donned in a full face of makeup with colorful hair, volunteering any way she could. She very quickly became known as “the makeup lady,” with people taking a liking to her. She then began providing makeup and hair services to those in the area, assembling a team to help those in need feel beautiful and leave them wanting to come back more and more.
Now her organization has served hundreds, maybe even thousands of unhoused people over the last six years, providing them with hot showers, hygiene products, and of course hair and makeup. She documents her work and the stories of those she serves on social media, garnering millions of views on TikTok. She often uses her work to lift the stigma of unhoused people, poverty, and Skid Row in general.
“I would like for people to understand and know that at any given time, this could be you. How come we taught society that these people are to be blamed for their circumstances?,” Raines said.
While she is honored to continue doing the work and grateful to all the donations she receives that allows her to stop funding her efforts solely, she consistently enrolls local officials in her work. Raines implores them to address systemic issues of poverty, addiction and violence that plague the area. Skid Row has one of the largest unhoused populations in the nation, with nearly 3,000 people living on the streets. The area only makes up 0.0001% of the county’s total land area but accounts for about 3% of the county’s total unhoused population according to the Community Redevelopment Agency.
“It’s one of the most dangerous areas in Los Angeles. It’s considered toxic, it’s considered an area that’ s filled with dangerous people and people who have been dismissed by life,” Raines explains.
Still, she believes that what statistics don’t show is the heart of the community on Skid Row and the heart of the people, something Raines makes known in her videos. Kirkpatrick Tyler, director of Skid Row Strategy at the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement, said that while the office continues to work on improving the conditions in the area, community members like Raines are critical to continuing sparking human connection in the neighborhood that contributes to a better community.
“Skid Row is full of vibrant people with big hearts that believe in themselves, that believe in one another, and that are committed and dedicated to transforming that community. For our office, that was actually one of the first things that we had to address -- that we were no longer going to speak about Skid Row as an area in downtown that had a homeless problem, that we would speak about Skid Row as a community,” said Tyler.
Not only is it in fact, a community, it’s one that Raines feels deeply embedded in. Whenever she hands out food or does someone's hair, she always tells them she loves them. “I love you,” was one of the last things Raines told her son before his death and she knows just how impactful the phrase can be. When she hears someone say it back, she is reminded of the healing taking place in her work, for those she serves and for herself.
“It just feels good, because I know how hard it is to trust when life hasn’t been kind to you, people haven;t been kind to you...We think that they’re a burden to society but they’re not a burden to society. Society is a burden to them,” said Raines.
She hopes that her work will inspire others to give back in any way they can.
“The goal in life is not to have as much as you can; the goal in life is to give as much as you can,” Raines said.
To keep up with her work, follow @Beauty2TheStreetz on Instagram!
Thank you for your work Shirley! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Shirley Raines/Good Morning America