Homelessness is at an all-time high in California, and there is no solution in sight. Being homeless can be a very demoralizing experience, and most people lose hope when being placed in that kind of situation. Survival becomes a necessity, while health and hygiene are a luxury.
Shirley Raines noticed this when passing through Skid Row and decided to do something about it.
Raines started Beauty2TheStreetz to give back to the community and spread awareness about the homelessness crisis.
“Beauty2TheStreetz is a non-profit organization that focuses on providing essential items like food, hygiene products, and PPE alongside self-care items and beauty services to the homeless community in Skid Row, Los Angeles,” Raines said. “This project started as a way for me to find a purpose for the pain and depression I experienced after the death of my young son, but it’s grown and transformed based on the needs of the community.”
Raines didn’t have an immense amount of money to start with, but she had drive and support from friends and family and was able to feed more than 400 people at the first event.
The project also offers showers, hair washes and colorings, make-up, wigs, and importantly, connection. Over time as her organization grew, Raines doubled the number of people she helped.
“We have grown our organization to feed and support nearly 1,000 people weekly. While we certainly haven’t made any moves to end homelessness, we’ve brought a lot of attention and resources to the community, and we’re proud of that.”
Raines’s efforts did not go unnoticed, as she has been nominated as the “CNN Hero of the Year.”
“I was thrilled and honored by the CNN nomination, but I never saw it as an individual honor,” she said. “We have so many volunteers that are also heroes, and the community we serve, who are vulnerable enough to share their stories, trust our intentions and welcome us into their space. Those are the people that the CNN award honored, and the money we won went entirely back to that community, it’s theirs.”
Raines was also selected to be the commencement speaker at LA Southwest College’s 2022 graduation set for June 7, and felt like it was part of her calling to serve her community.
“When the college asked me to speak, I immediately felt called to do it,” she said. “I don’t do speaking events, but I felt connected to this school because it is in my hometown and the community we serve. I hope my message can resonate with the students.”
Raines’s advice for people is to start where they can, make an impact with what they have and be resourceful. “ You don’t need tons of money or resources to serve. It’s also important to ask people what they need from you.”
Raines is also looking to expand her organization. Visit https://tinyurl.com/5ah5v5my.