Although Vanessa Howard is now a successful salon owner, life wasn’t always so easy for the 62-year-old mother of 5.
In 1997, twenty years ago, Vanessa was a single mother of 3, struggling to pay the bills with no more than $1.75 in her pocket. A victim of domestic violence, Vanessa got pregnant in her teen years, later escaping the “drug infested” home of her childhood. Pregnant and broke, the young mother had no place to go and no one to turn to.
She tells CBS News, “I cried out one day. I was tired of being homeless, tired of being alone, and prayed for help.”
One day after being denied by countless other landlords, she shows up to view an apartment. The owner tells her, “I don’t know you, but I feel like you should have this place.”
Vanessa viewed this act of kindness as a sign, explaining: “It was from there that I found hope and restoration. I just wanted to pay it forward.”
Sixteen years later, she would finally get the opportunity. Having saved enough funds, Vanessa opened the Giving Hands Hair Salon, an operation devoted to giving back to the homeless in the community.
Once per month, the 62-year-old mother of 5, opens her salon up to homeless women, providing them with free makeovers and pampering.
She has been providing these makeovers for the past 4 years.
The salon owner knows the struggles of homelessness, explaining to CBS News, “That’s why I give so hard.”
Most recently, on July 30th, 2017, Vanessa turned her focus towards homeless children, hosting a “Back to School Princess Party” for homeless girls aged 5 to 11.
She tells CBS News, “We want them to feel like a princess for a day. It’s important, especially during their transition. I want them to be confident because if they’re confident they excel.”
During the event, each girl had her hair and nails done, but Vanessa also went the extra mile, explaining:
“We buy uniforms for when they go back to school, socks, shoes, underwear; everything they need, school supplies… We make sure that when they go back to school, they are confident and they are ready.”