My good friend Sara P. told me a story I have never forgotten. During an earthquake relief mission in Guatemala, she sat in a tiny, cramped shelter with a woman who had lost everything. Sara, having little on hand in the moment, opened her purse, found a lipstick, and gave it to the woman, whose response was a smile as bright as the sun. The lipstick might as well have been gold. What the woman needed most in the wake of tremendous loss was to feel human.

Last evening, Shirley Raines earned CNN’s Hero of the Year Award for her tireless efforts with the people on LA’s Skid Row. Her mission started simply, with free haircuts and makeup. Ms. Raines understood the importance of feeling human.

This from CNN:

Raines and her non-profit Beauty 2 the Streetz have been a mainstay on Skid Row for the past six years, providing food, clothing, and hair and makeup services to thousands of people.

Every week, Raines and her team of volunteers set up shop and transform part of Skid Row — home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of homeless people — into an outdoor beauty salon.

 She pushed forward:

. . .  Raines’ efforts evolved into a full-scale operation, with music playing and lines forming around the block, she [now provides] more supplies and essentials: rape whistles, tents, sleeping bags, hygiene items — and [has] teamed up with local health officials to offer more services.

 Surrounded by crises and corruption, it’s important for us to remember there are people who have not given up, who have the courage not to be discouraged.

This week we are stunned by devastation across Kentucky and Arkansas, by the photos and stories coming from communities shredded by tornadoes.

No, makeup and haircuts won’t reconstruct lives, but I take comfort knowing the Saras and Shirleys of this world are there helping people feel seen, feel human.

Photo: Wikipedia