Eugene Taylor stopped wearing his dentures about six months before he sat down for a free makeover at the T.H.E. Salon.
But after getting a haircut, beard trim, manicure and pedicure, the 69-year-old former Marine gunnery sergeant liked what he saw and decided to pop his chompers in again to complete his new look.
“It made me feel real good,” he said of the experience a year ago when he was moving into his new house at Veterans Village. “Having a female do my hair was interesting. … Now I decided to let her grow and see what a rag mop I can get out of it.”
Taylor received his makeover at the salon’s first location at a local recovery center, but residents of Veterans Village II, the nonprofit’s second location at 50 N. 21st St., won’t need to travel to polish their personal appearances.
That’s because T.H.E. (Total Hair Experience) Salon owner Nicole Christie opened a new spa Wednesday at the complex, which provides veterans with housing and many other services. She said she will provide free makeovers, including hair-removal waxing, to all new residents of the complex and serve current residents at cut-rate prices.
“When we get a call from a United States veteran that is at the lowest point of his or her life, we used to get so frustrated that we were only just putting them somewhere,” Arnold Stalk, founder of Veterans Village, said at Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting. “When we can give them some tools and aesthetically lift them up, that’s an amazing change.”
Stalk and Christie came up with the idea to build the small salon about six months ago.
“It’s important to note what self care does for those who struggle with addiction, mental illnesses or for those at the lowest point,” said Christie, who has operated a spa catering to people battling addiction at the Solutions Recovery facility at Edna Avenue and South Rainbow Boulevard for about six years.
“When they have the healing that matches the outside to what’s going on in the inside, it’s a wonderful thing,” she said.
The T.H.E. Salon location at Veterans Village is open to the public, though hours and prices have yet to be finalized, Christie said.
Proceeds will help keep the salon running, as will donations of many of the hair products used at the facility, she said.
In another development at the village, Stalk said he expects to break ground in the next week on construction of 10 shipping container homes, the first phase of a project he unveiled in December. Eventually he hopes to expand the project to build about 100 of the no-frills residences at a different downtown site.
Salk received a congressional recognition at the salon ceremony by the offices of U.S. Reps. Dina Titus and Susie Lee.
Samantha Bivins, who attended on behalf of the office of Rep. Steven Horsford, thanked Stalk for providing a convenient place for veterans to take care of themselves.
Bivins, a widow of a Marine, said she knows the struggle of transitioning from the streets: In 1998, she was homeless and pregnant with her daughter.
“When you feel better and look better, it’s all part of the transformation and you being able to transform your life,” she said.
Contact Briana Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org 0r 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.