St. John’s students are bridging the gap between two generations in a refreshing way with the organization Glamour Gals.
Glamour Gals, a non-profit organization, brings together the elderly and young adults through connections and conversations. By providing complimentary manicures and makeovers to women in senior homes, Glamour Gals is allowing them to share their stories and let their legacy live on. Founded in 1999, Glamour Gals has over 1,400 volunteers with chapters across the country, including one here at St. John’s. Students Fareesha Ali, Cody Sheeler and Daniel Pottinger brought the organization to St. John’s about a year ago.
Glamour Gals goes to nursing homes near St. John’s, such as Chapin Nursing Home, and participates in collaborative makeovers with other universities and high schools from Manhattan and Queens. The organization usually has two makeovers done a month.
“Depending on what senior home we go to, if there’s like a conference center where the seniors convene, what we do is we gather them together (particularly female residents) and do their nails, give them hand massages and apply makeup,” co-president Fareesha Ali said.
“Our sole purpose is to communicate and talk to them.”
Glamour Gals promotes dignity, care and involvement in the senior home, as many of the elderly women tend to become lonely and isolated.
70 percent of seniors residing in senior homes are women. 66 percent are widowed and 46 percent have no living children. “A lot of times we go there and like one resident told me, ‘Oh, my granddaughters was supposed to visit me, my daughter was supposed to visit me and nobody ever shows up,’ ” Ali said.
“So, we carry on their stories and make them feel like they’re loved and know they’re not forgotten.”As people age, the amount of compassionate interactions and conversations they experience decrease, especially for those in senior homes.
“We always stress anyone can do nails, anyone can do manicures and makeovers but really that extra step of being able to hear their stories and go in to meet them and basically spending time with them,” treasurer Cody Sheeler said.
“They get so much more out of that and having that peer interaction and someone listening to them.”
The St. John’s chapter of Glamour Gals has 172 registered members.
At each makeover, the organization takes around 15-20 members, sometimes 5-10 to volunteer their time.
“Usually people hear about us through their friends and our pink logo really attracts people because they want to know what this is and we tell them it’s more than just makeovers and manicures,” Ali said. The organization promotes their mission by doing a lot of networking events, like having a booth set up at family weekend. Not only do they do makeovers, the organization also has bake sales and gets a lot of sign-ups through that.
“I feel like especially the people in student development have really helped market us and really allow us to branch out to meet other orgs, make those connections and really expand the brand of Glamour Gals,” Sheeler said.
Many students can relate to the organizations foundation because their grandparents may have passed away or they just don’t get to spend enough time with them.
With doing this community service, they get to bond with the seniors to build that connection and fill that gap.
Most of the seniors are also taken aback at the male involvement in Glamour Gals. The 20 male members also participate in the manicures and makeovers.
“The ladies are usually surprised that a lot of guys are interested in doing this too,” Sheeler said.
“Especially because all of the guys know how to do nails and stuff like that. As long as they feel comfortable with us then it’s great.”
Members are rewarded with the connections they make with the women at the senior homes, taking home more than just the feeling of helping someone, but also memories of the stories they’re told and the impact they made on these ladies’ day.
“It’s really nice hearing their stories and personal connections,” Sheeler said. “To me, that’s probably the most rewarding part.”
The organization will be celebrating its one-year anniversary here at St. John’s next month.
“That would be around the end of December because that’s when everything came through and when we got the follow up from St. John’s with the okay to go ahead,” Ali said.
And the rest is history.