Any time is a great time to be charitable (‘tis the season afterall) and while MODERN loves to celebrate YOUR efforts, we decided to participate. MODERN stepped up to the plate and spearheaded creating a salon space inside a women’s shelter in Wanaque, New Jersey.
MODERN’s Beauty and Fashion Director Maggie Mulhern regularly donates to the Strengthen Our Sisters Organization (SOS), a 501C (3) shelter designed to help abused women and families with a mission to “break the cycle of domestic violence, poverty, and abuse by restoring balance and harmony through individual empowerment.” Seen as the last resort for families in need and run by volunteers, there are seven shelters, two daycare centers, food pantries and a thrift store throughout Northern New Jersey. Founded by Sandra Ramos in 1970, SOS is reported to be the first shelter for battered women in North America. Since then, thousands of women and children have found assistance from SOS. Currently there are 135 families in residence in receipt of housing, clothing, food, assistance with legal matters and social services, laundry, day care and job training.
Xenia Danko, manager of the Wanaque base, was always thrilled when Mulhern walked in with bags of clothing and household items, as well as gently used blow dryers, flat irons and curling irons that she received at industry events. “This is amazing,” Danko finally shared. “I used to be a salon owner and I frequently help prep our women for job interviews and do their kids hair for back to school or prom.” When asked where she preps the hair, Danko pointed to the chair behind her desk. “It’s not easy,” she adds. “There’s nowhere to wash the hair so they have to come freshly shampooed with wet hair. There’s really no space, obviously no mirror, no products. We make do.”
Oh my. That’s not good.
Mulhern decided to call in the troops. Trying to keep everything in the SOS backyard, she reached out to some New Jersey based companies. “Count us in,” Joe Mastalia, President of DePasquale Salon Systems said. Product Club didn’t even wait for more details and sent a giant box filled with clips, gloves, foils and brushes. Not skipping a beat, Salon Interiors, based in South Hackensack, NJ, came through in a big way. Owner Walter Siegordner gave the go ahead to Designer Louis Benevento who came out to the house used by several of the residents to transform an area of the living room into a functioning “salon.” After finding the proper plumbing area, he measured the walls with the goal to offer a great working space while maintaining as much of the living space as possible.
It worked. Two stations were built along a far wall, just steps from the new shampoo basin, leaving room for the residents to still use the couch, relax and watch TV in the common area. “I want it all to be beautiful but functional,” Benevento said, “without overwhelming the living room.” The shelves are now stocked with ECRU New York Beauty products and tools (courtesy DePasquale Salon Systems) and there are enough Product Club supplies to last through 2019. Three donors, Carmen DePasquale, the owner of DePasqaule Salon Systems, an anonymous donor and MODERN’s Publisher Steve Reiss, all chipped in to pay for the plumber and the various permits needed to make it all official.
The SOS Salon is a success. “Now that we have the facility, everyone is lining up,” Danko says. “It is open to everyone in the shelter without charge and everyone acknowledges it is a privilege. We’ve seen that our new transformations help with depression, while giving our residents motivation and confidence. We change lives every single day here at SOS and our residents are grateful to have a proper place to change those lives, and in a beautiful way.”
Join us as we visit the SOS Salon for the grand opening: