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The Beyond Project brings haircuts, other wellness services to Seattle-area homeless

The Beyond Project's executive director said performing their services during the coronavirus pandemic has been complicated, but arguably more important than ever.

SEATTLE — Beauty professionals in Seattle are partnering with local nonprofits to help those experiencing homelessness access some of the most basic services. 

The Beyond Project is a collection of hair stylists, barbers, makeup artists, massage therapists, and others in the beauty industry that volunteer their time to give back to the community. 

The Beyond Project has partnered with over 30 nonprofits since 2013 in the greater Seattle area. It aims to bridge the gap between beauty professionals and nonprofits that could utilize their services. 

Beyond Project Founder and Executive Director, Rachel Hile, is a hair stylist herself and said she knows how a simple haircut can provide dignity to people facing unthinkable obstacles, such as homelessness, addiction, domestic violence, or sex trafficking. 

She said performing their services during the coronavirus pandemic has been complicated, but arguably more important than ever.

The Beyond Project deploys various volunteers to work with area nonprofits and provide the capes, masks and sanitizer to clean all of the equipment. 

On Thursday, the organization teamed up with Aurora Commons, a drop-in center for area homeless, to provide haircuts, friendship, food and clothing. Temperature checks were done, hand sanitizer was provided and an orderly line helped ensure safety during the event. Hygiene, laundry and restrooms were all offered in a welcoming, living room setting.  

"We don’t treat people like they are a number. We know their names and make it personal. More interactional and less transactional," said worker Danielle Hester, who was previously homeless and suffered with addiction.

Hester said she got clean two years ago and has been sober ever since thanks to the help of Aurora Commons. She said something as simple as a haircut can mean a lot to someone living on the street.

"I was homeless and I know how people look at you and think you're dirty," said Hester. 

She said that welcoming guests with dignity and showing them love can be a catalyst for breaking the cycle of homelessness. 

To learn more about The Beyond Project, visit their website.