Good feelings abundant at charity makeover event in Bedford

April 05. 2015 8:11PM

Good feelings abundant at charity makeover event in Bedford

Kristen Brewester, an AmeriCorps VISTA currently volunteering at Families in Transition – New Horizons, and five other women affiliated with the nonprofit, were treated to free full makeovers at H2O Salon Spa in Bedford. (Courtesy/Kendal J. Bush Photography)

BEDFORD — A day at the salon, complete with a haircut, color treatments and expertly applied makeup, can provide a boost in self-confidence. For women who struggle with poverty, homelessness, addiction and unemployment, a day of pampering is a luxury — one that few can set aside money for.

But a local salon recently did just that for a deserving group of women who volunteer their time to help others, and are committed to bettering themselves.

“The staff at H2O really listened to their concerns and what they sort of had in mind,” said Michele Talwani, vice president of economic development and marketing for Families in Transition – New Horizons. “They really made them feel special.”

On Monday, H2O Salon Spa, located in the Bedford Grove shopping center at 7 Colby Court, treated six women selected as “models” by the Manchester-based nonprofit Families in Transition – New Horizons to free makeovers and professional photographs — two who work for the organization as AmeriCorps VISTAs, and four who are currently enrolled in the program at FIT.

“Being a business owner, it’s awesome to be able to give back to the community in any way that we can,” said Heather Owen, owner and art director of H20, who has partnered with FIT five times to provide free makeovers. “It’s just a really good ‘feel-good’ to be able to provide these services that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford.”

FIT provides housing to families and individuals facing homelessness, as well as supports to help their clients get back on their feet. Owen said several of the women who received makeovers were soon “graduating” from the program.

“(They are) entering into the job market, so they would need a professional appearance, and wanted to look good and feel confident,” she said. Each woman had a full consultation with their makeup artists and hair stylists to help pick the hairstyle, hair color and makeup that would make them feel most beautiful.

Owen and her team enjoyed getting to know the models, she said. One woman is a mother of two who became homeless and lived in a shelter with her children, waiting for a spot to open at FIT.

“I think that clearly, hearing her story … tells me that there’s a bigger need (for homeless services),” she said.

Owen also said she was inspired by the AmeriCorps volunteers. VISTAs receive a stipend to cover basic living expenses, and typically have similar incomes to the populations they work with during their year of service.

“If you think about it, who else makes that life decision (to live in poverty), besides a monk?” she said. “To have someone that’s that selfless — that’s amazing to me.”

All of the women chosen for the makeovers were excited for the opportunity.

“It was palpable — you could feel it in the air, everyone was so excited,” Owen said. “Who doesn’t like a good makeover?”

Talwani said opportunities like the one provided by H20 are rare for the women in the program.

“As women, we know how good we feel after we leave the salon,” Talwani said. “You stand up a little straighter, you have a little bit more skip in your step. And for the women in our program to be able to … have a professional cut and color, and even have their makeup done, doesn’t come along very often.”

It was also a recognition of the hard work and dedication of the two VISTAs, Talwani said.

“They live at very modest, low incomes, but they’re working to make our community a better place for real disadvantaged people,” she said. “It was a nice added benefit for them.”

Kristen Brewster, one of the AmeriCorps VISTAs currently serving at FIT, had her brunette hair cut to shoulder-length and colored dark red.

“It’s not too often … that I actually go out and get my hair done,” Brewster said. “Usually, rather than doing that, I’m putting that money toward getting food or the necessities, paying bills.”

Brewster also said she enjoyed seeing the women from FIT getting pampered for a change, too.

“Everyone was all smiles at the end of the day,” she said.


To learn more about Families in Transition – New Horizons, visit For more information on H2O Salon Spa, visit

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