A love of hair combined with artistic talent and supportive parents lead Debra Penzone, senior vice president of Charles Penzone, in the Columbus, Ohio area, to beauty school after high school. She started at Charles Penzone after school as an assistant and has stayed for 20 years.
Although she stepped away from the chair 10 years ago to focus on the Penzone salons’ cause marketing programs, she has maintained her license, partly so she can participate in programs like “Look Good, Feel Better,” a partnership between the National Cosmetology Association and the American Cancer Society. LGFB trains stylists to show patients how to work with hair and hairpieces, make-up and skin care to look and feel more like “themselves” while undergoing cancer treatment.
“I haven’t been personally affected by breast cancer—I think it was seeing clients I was close to go through it,” says Penzone. “I thought ‘I need to help out with this.’ Giving of your time and talent is a great way to give back to the community—non-profits are starving for it.”
For the last decade, she has participated in LGFB along with about 20 specially trained stylists from the Charles Penzone salons. Each month, three different hospitals in their area each host a two-hour LGFB program for patients, and one of the volunteer stylists goes to meet with the women.
“It’s a wonderful experience[for the women]—the nurses and caregivers seem to have to make them go at first, but once they get there, it almost becomes a support group,” says Penzone.
The stylist and the women discuss physical side effects and what they can do about them, such as what happens when the eyelashes or eyebrows fall out, what products to use on sensitized skin and how they can get to where they recognize themselves in the mirror.
“When we do these programs, the staff always says how great they feel afterwards, that they got so much out of the class,” says Penzone.
“Being able to help someone at one of the worst times and make them feel better, feel beautiful,” she says.
“It’s something special that we have the talent to do that for another person. So many young professionals don’t understand the impact that we can have on our whole community by making people feel their very best.”