Julia Pon, one of 400 Beauty Night volunteers

Since 2000, over 500 Beauty Night Society volunteers have donated their time, expertise, and hearts to give more than 26,000 life makeovers to women living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

On December 18, dozens more life makeovers will get underway as this wonderful organization will celebrate its 12th anniversary. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Caroline MacGillivray on several occasions, including Beauty Night’s 10th anniversary party. It’s always a heart-warming experience to see what Caroline is doing for the DTES women and children who’ve had a rough patch in life.

Beautiful Women. Photo by Ken Villeneuve
[Photo by Ken Villeneuve for Blue Planet Green Living. Reproduced with permission]

Beauty Night Society’s success is due to the tireless dedication and commitment of Caroline MacGillivray, who started the organization after an experience volunteering at a Downtown Eastside shelter in 2000.

“I noticed one of the clients was having a bad day; a young girl was struggling with a curling iron, almost in tears,” said MacGillivray. “I told her that I wasn’t a hairdresser, but was willing to try to help. She looked at me a little suspiciously at the beginning, but finally agreed. So the next thing I knew, this poor young lady and I ended up curling her hair one way, then the other, because I’m really not that good at hair. Then I ended up doing her makeup and her nails.”

From that single interaction, Caroline decided that giving women a reprieve from everyday life by offering life-makeovers would help women feel appreciated and potentially inspire them to change their lives. Caroline believes that the success of the program is largely due to the benefits of loving touch: women develop trust and understanding when they’re given Beauty Night makeovers.

Beauty Night 11th anniversary party-2

Caroline’s first event was attended by 73 women and 14 volunteers. Today, 200 impoverished women and youth receive Beauty Night services each week.

Beauty Night 11th anniversary party-5

Caroline and her team will celebrate the organization’s accomplishments and host volunteers and supporters at an event on December 15, but the real celebration will take place on December 18, where women in need will gather to support one another and benefit from healing touch. “Thanks to the dedication and support of the community we are able to run programming in Vancouver four nights per week.”

Beauty Night 11th anniversary party-4

“Over the past 12 years, our organization has captured the hearts and minds of the Vancouver-area business and activist communities, which have fervently supported our cause,” said MacGillivray. “The passion for helping women change their lives – beginning with one touch – has grown in ways I never imagined thanks to the support of others, and I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish together in the decades to come.”

Festivities will include:
– Photos with Santa and Ms. Claus
– Hair, makeup, nail and foot care services for women
– Scent Bar for ladies to create their own celebratory “pure” fume
– Kids activities

In addition, 1,500 filled Xmas stockings designed by Nancy Perreault will be handed out by volunteers dressed as elves from December 12 to 24 at shelters around the Lower Mainland.

Beauty Night 12th Anniversary Celebration

Date: December 18, 6 to 8 pm
Venue: Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, 302 Columbia Street at Cordova

Beauty Night Society builds self-esteem and changes the lives of women living in poverty, offering image makeovers, fitness programs, and life skills workshops to women in the Downtown Eastside. Beauty Night Society’s mandate is to provide the catalyst women need to change their lives by offering a gateway to health services – a moment where they forget about the stresses of living in poverty and find the courage to take action.

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