“Beauty 2 the Streetz” is a non-profit organization founded by Shirley Raines that she operates in Los Angeles, California, a city known for an overpopulated homeless rate. Raines, 53, started her career as a medical secretary, a profession that she thrived at. By all accounts, life was satisfactory for the mother of six until her son Demetrius died suddenly in a domestic accident.
After struggling with anxiety and panic disorder for several years, especially after her son’s death, Raines’ twin sister urged her to find a purpose for her pain. “When I put on these bold colors and look in the mirror, I don’t see the woman that’s buried so many people she loves,” she told writer Bella Cacciatore of Voge. “I don’t see the woman that’s worried where her next dollar is coming from. I don’t see the woman that’s put on 30 pounds because of the Prozac.”
She wanted a new passion and turned to her love for a style full of flair, but an expression that had substance, such as drawing out the inner strength and self-love that others needed especially those living on the streets. “I went to Skid Row, I’m like, ‘Oh, this is where all the broken people are? Oh, I’ve been looking for y’all all my life,” Raines told CNN. “I never wanted to leave. It’s a place where people have amazing hearts, but nobody can see it because they can’t see the forest for the trees.”
Every Saturday, Raines and her team serve people, providing them with essentials like food, haircuts, wigs, mascara, lipstick, eye shadow, nail polish. Before COVID-19 hit her service was in demand, but at the pandemic worsen, what she provided took an extra meaning now that Raines’ purpose was to provide the community with essential PPE kits, hand sanitizers, and information on social distancing and virus prevention. “Life still has to go on for them,” says Raines. “And right now they’re facing the triple threat of no food, the rain, and this virus,” she told CNN.
She has 130,000 followers for whom many have contributed to champion her cause to help the homeless. Raines has been known to stop by McDonald’s and 600 hamburgers to bring to the homeless. She has over 29 volunteers with diverse backgrounds, such as motorcycle club and Fighters for the World,
Raines and her team serve approximately 600 people on an average day, providing them with food, haircuts, wigs, and bags of beauty products donated or purchased via an Amazon wish list. “People need to understand, no, this isn’t getting people off the streets. It’s keeping their spirits up enough so that people aren’t like, ‘This is the end of the road for me.'”
Raines maintains that makeup can provide those who might be challenged with the opinion that their external appearances or self-worth are not significant. Raines witnessed firsthand of the effects. “It plants a little bit of self-esteem in them, so they feel like, OK, maybe no one knows I’m homeless because I have a fresh cut,” she told CNN.
She told Cacciatore, “When we do their hair and makeup, it creates an opening for them to tell their story, like, ‘My mom always used to wear this lip color.’ They open up, they become nostalgic, and they look in the mirror and can’t believe what they look like. ‘They’re like, ‘Oh my God, is that me? I’m like, ‘Yes, that is you, queen!'”