Makeovers inspire self-confidence for recovering addicts in Charlotte area

For guests at Planet 21 Salon, a day of pampering Sunday was a step toward a new life. Planet 21 partnered with SOUL 139, a Christian nonprofit organization that uses donated salon space and professional stylists to serve recovering addicts, human-trafficking victims and others in need.

SOUL 139’s goal is to provide their guests with a feeling of self-worth, said Kat Crawford, SOUL 139 founder and stylist at Planet 21. “My gift is cutting hair, and my passion is working with underprivileged people,” she said. “If you change something on the outside, (the guests) change on the inside, too.”

Crawford hopes to one day operate a nonprofit salon. “(Guests) are often really down on themselves,” she said. “They don’t see the life we see in them.”

On Sunday, Planet 21’s Arlington Avenue salon opened its doors to residents of Hope Haven, a two-year program promoting self-sufficiency among recovering addicts, patients of Matthews Free Medical Clinic and residents of Charlotte Rescue Mission’s Rebound Men’s Program, which serves men struggling with addiction and homelessness.

Each guest was partnered with a volunteer, called a SOUL mate, who encouraged them while listening to their stories, said Deidre Dickey, volunteer public relations/event planner at SOUL 139 . “We’re helping them to feel comfortable and loved,” she said.

The makeovers give the guests self-confidence, Crawford said. “It’s fun to see them come to life at the end of the day,” she said.

Hope Haven resident Martha Worthy said she was enjoying her first time at a professional salon. “I’m excited about getting my hair done,” she said. “I’m very pleased to meet the people that are doing my hair.”

Worthy said she broke her drug addiction through her faith and help at Hope Haven. “The Lord has delivered me from drugs, and Hope Haven has given me the opportunity to change my life around,” she said. “I’m grateful to be here today, clean and sober.”

Amanda Hopkins, who was addicted to marijuana and cocaine when she joined Hope Haven on April 8, said she was thankful for the support. “You don’t find many people that care,” she said. “It’s nice what they’re doing.” Hopkins said she will be 30 days sober on May 8.

Relaxing in the shampoo chair, Rebound resident Ryan Smith, 24, said the haircut will help him look for a part-time job. Smith graduated from the Rebound program in December after struggling with heroin and alcohol addictions. He hopes to attend school to study information technology. “It’s great (SOUL 139) is doing this,” he said.

The stylists often get as much out of the experience as the guests, said Sunshine Britton, a Planet 21 stylist. “You don’t realize how much you change your heart.”