LOS ANGELES — The streets of skid row are lined with tents filled with people who have nowhere else to call home.
On most days, nonprofit organizations bring food, supplies, and basic needs to help homeless men and women get by.
Hundreds of men and women line up for services, but one woman noticed what homeless women were missing: a moment to feel good again.
Irene Valencia has been homeless for the last two years.
She came to the corner of Towne Avenue and 5th Street to pick up donated clothes and possibly a hot meal like many others.
But she wasn’t expecting to find options to dye her hair, pick up makeup, and for a moment to feel whole again.
“When people set up things like this it really helps. You know the hygiene even if it’s a kind word, you know,” Valencia said.
For the last two years, she has been dealing with the emotional turmoil of not being able to take care of her four daughters since she lost her home and her job as a line cook.
It’s a reality she never thought would happen to her.
“I used to be that person, 'Oh I’d never sleep in the street. I’d never do this and that,’ and it was really humbling to be like I have to pitch up a tent because I have nowhere else to go,” Valencia said.
She is one of the hundreds of homeless women on skid row who have fallen on hard times.
It’s stories like hers that helped Shirley Raines bring Beauty2TheStreetz, a nonprofit that provides showers, food, makeup, haircuts, and hair color, for the last two years to those on skid row.
Raines said it’s a need that helps give these women a break from their pain.
“A lot of people say do you think the hair and do you think makeup is going to get them off the streets? I don’t think it’s going to change their situation, but for a moment in time it gives them an escape,” Raines said.
There’s a sense of compassion and normalcy that Raines said she wants to bring back to the lives of women on skid row, even if it’s just for a moment.
Raines relies heavily on donations to provide the nonprofit's services through her donation registry.
For the first time in two years, Valencia changed her golden brown hair to burgundy.
A change she was happy to see while looking in the mirror.
“I love it. It’s very pretty. Yeah I like it a lot,” Valencia said.
She's in the process of finding housing and getting back on her own feet.
But until then, she’s comforted knowing Raines helped her look past her situation, even if it was just for a moment.