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Makeovers offer hope for homeless women

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Pontiac — Looking in the mirror makes Jessica Fox uncomfortable. Trying to remain invisible feels better.


Grace Centers of Hope resident Stacey Myers gets her makeup done by volunteer Nadia Aboukarr.

Forget about wearing makeup. She doesn’t want to be noticed.

“I’d wear a hoodie with the hood up, and if anybody dared tell me I was pretty, I’d just look away and say, ‘Thanks. Whatever,’” said Fox, 30, formerly of Roseville.

But on Monday, the homeless mom sat in a chair while a stylist trimmed and curled her hair, and when the makeover session was over, she looked in the mirror. She smiled for the first time that morning.


Fox was among some of the homeless women residents at the William A. Davis Women and Children’s Center in Pontiac participating in a day of makeovers, including hair trimming and styling, false lashes, brow waxing and manicures.

The center is a ministry of Grace Centers of Hope, which provides a one-year residential life skills program. Currently, there are 51 women and 11 children living at the center.

Twenty-five women received makeovers by the end of the day.

The session was hosted by Angela Boyce, 33, a formerly homeless mom of five, whose mission is to build the self-esteem of other homeless women and help them forget their troubles for a moment.

Fox stood a bit straighter after the makeover.

“I feel good that I actually went through with it because I almost went back upstairs to avoid it,” said Fox, who has lived at the shelter for three months with her 4-year-old son.

Getting her hair styled was all she could handle. Fox declined the makeup, false lashes, brow waxing and manicure.

Boyce, who hosted the program, once called a tent and a greenish-gray Town & Country minivan her home.

She lived there with her five children in San Diego and in Detroit after fleeing an abusive husband. But she said she vowed to one day help homeless women feel better about themselves.

She created a nonprofit, You Affirm Self, in 2016, and shared her story with the women while they were being made over.

“I was turned away from this shelter as well as many others because I was told time after time that I had too many children,” said Boyce, who now rents a four-bedroom home in Southfield. “I remained homeless for three and a half years and eventually stayed in five shelters.”

But her grandmother had faith in her ability to rise above her circumstances. “My grandmother passed away last year, but she told me years earlier, ‘I know you can make it, and you will figure out how to help those babies and get into a house.’”

Boyce added, “I told her, ‘I’m not only going to make it, I will tell other women that they can make it, too.’”

Stacey Myers, who had the ultimate makeover — hair, nails, makeup and false lashes — heard Boyce’s message.

“I feel so much better,” said Myers, 36, formerly of Macomb Township. “Before this, I just felt plain and didn’t want to even look in the mirror.”

Myers said she was abusing drugs for about eight years. She said she has been clean for three months.

“I didn’t want to give up, and I didn’t want to die,” Myers said. “I knew there was something better for me.”

Myers began her makeover in April Mannion’s chair getting her hair styled. Mannion of Pontiac, a stylist and instructor, is the owner of AColorist and holds workshops and private classes. She partners with Boyce in providing makeovers.

“It’s not just about making the client look pretty on the outside,” said Mannion, who also is a minister. “It’s about making them feel beautiful on the inside.”

She said she often brings her students to shelters to give back.

“They’re reluctant at first, but then they see the transformation,” she said. “It’s giving the women a caring touch and allowing them to just rest in your chair.”

Patricia Childress, 58, formerly of Oak Park, sat patiently while stylist Kenya Jackson of Flint applied false lashes.

“This is a blessing that they would take the time to come here and give us makeovers,” Childress said.

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