Sheila Keast aims to thank returning veterans the best way she knows how — with etiquette training and other manner matters.
The Henderson-based certified etiquette trainer is offering her services free for veterans transitioning from active duty to civilian life. Keast assists with dining, interview, dress and basic composition skills necessary to mind one’s Ps and Qs in important social situations.
"They go off to war and come back, and we often forget about them," she said. "I just feel they gave so much, and I want to give back."
At her mother’s behest, Keast attended elocution courses in her native Ireland and developed a passion for etiquette. She hosts lessons for children and adult groups professionally but plans to donate about three days a month to veterans.
Keast felt inspired by a news story on returning veterans and thought about bad habits formed or worsened during active duty, she said.
"They don’t have to sit and eat properly and may be eating quickly (and) out of a container with their hands," she said.
Keast’s dining curriculum includes English and American eating styles for a three-course meal or tea time. She addresses everything from elbow and napkin placement to proper posture and use of table settings, she said.
For veterans facing job interviews, Keast has lesson plans regarding proper dress and personal presentation.
Her tutelage extends to social outings after a job has been landed.
"One of the biggest mistakes I see is people tend to drink too much or eat too much and make a bad impression," she said. "You should eat before and limit what you drink."
Keast is slated to speak at a career day at Nellis Air Force Base March 29. Keast said she’s flexible about where her etiquette classroom can be set. She hosts an English tea party at 3 p.m. each Thursday at English’s Quintessentially British at Town Square Las Vegas, 6599 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 210.
On a recent Thursday, Paulo Duran brought his children, Kevin, 7, and Paola, 8, for a return session with Keast.
The youngsters exercised patience before tea and finger sandwiches were delivered and waited for their host’s lead before eating. Kevin recited instructions to Keast about elbow placement, and Paola reminded the group members when it was time to set a napkin on their laps.
Proper manners boost overall confidence, she said.
"I had a young girl come to her first session quiet, slouching and not making eye contact," she said. "By her ninth session, she asserted herself to me. Her confidence has built."
Depending on availability, Keast may offer her future veteran clients hair and makeover services via a local hairdresser.
Lessons are by appointment only.
For more information, visit sheilakeast.com/ or call 983-0483.
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Maggie Lillis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 477-3839.