|This story has been corrected.|
Salon owner Paul Brown often takes his stylists on the road for public makeovers and demonstrations, including working with senior citizens, victims of domestic violence and children diagnosed with cancer, the last through the American Cancer Society’s summer camp, Camp Anuenue.
He’s accustomed to the joyful responses of those who receive the pampering and care, but as a routine course of his salon business for 40 years, Brown said he had almost forgotten how a small gesture has the power to brighten lives.
He felt that sense of impact renewed last fall after working on the hair of a Navy woman who’d just returned from duty in Iraq. “Her eyes lit up and I could feel like I’d made a difference,” he said.
At that moment, Operation Makeover was born.
“We’d been doing a lot of philanthropic work, but here was a group of people that is really deserving, really supporting us with the work they do for this country,” said Brown, founder of Paul Brown Hawaii and Paul Brown Salons and Day Spas. “These people lay down their lives for us, or their spouses do, and very little is given back to them as far as I can see.”
He teamed with other businesses to offer a pampering package that encompasses a day of indulgence, starting with a beauty makeover at one of his three main salons followed by dinner for two at Roy’s Hawaii, an overnight stay at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and a $250 shopping excursion at Guess.
Three Operation Makeover winners are selected each month from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard and Navy. Recipients are selected by the Armed Services YMCA based on nominations from their peers or community members. Criteria include going above and beyond the call of duty, wartime service, contributions to others and, in the case of family members, their support of others in the command and volunteerism.
One of the most recent winners was Petty Officer of the Navy Evette McDowald, who received her makeover last month. Also named Commander Navy Region Hawaii’s Senior Sailor of the Year, she was recognized for mentoring sailors assigned to the region. McDowald serves as drug and alcohol program adviser for CNRH and is vice president of the CNRH Petty Officers Association and a member of CNRH’s Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions.
She was also recognized for her volunteer spirit, working with such community organizations as the Boy Scouts.
McDowald, who was nominated by her chief, was taken by surprise when she was named an Operation Makeover winner.
“I was excited and shocked. I was wondering why everybody was standing around and waiting for me to show up at work,” she said. “I don’t normally look for things like that.”
McDowald, who is from Tennessee, said it was a real treat to have someone work on her hair. Because of the expense, she hasn’t visited a salon since she was stationed in Hawaii two years ago.
“I know how to do it, so I do my own hair,” she said, adding the makeover “was so nice. They gave me a bob and made it so bouncy and light.”
“Everyone at work was excited to see my hair and when they said, ‘Oh, it looks so beautiful,’ I said, ‘Oh, did I look ugly?’ But it was because I always wear my hair in a ponytail. They’d never see it down.”
McDowald also opted for a makeup session for her weekend of indulgence with her husband. The petty officer said she normally doesn’t wear makeup because she doesn’t have time in the morning when she’s rushing to get her two daughters, ages 5 and 2, ready for their day. Personal maintenance is reserved for weekends, when she spends time with her family and at church.
“I don’t take time for myself. My husband and I are very family oriented, so it’s family first,” she said.
BROWN SAID touch is an important component of the makeover sessions. “It’s noninvasive touching in a comforting way that makes people feel better, and that’s what we do.”
Even so, Brown said what he imagined as a program that would be all about the other person ultimately “is all about me.”
“Every time I create a haircut, I feel good about what I do, and it feels great to help others. It’s a win-win situation.”
» The last line in the above story was cut midsentence. The quote by salon owner Paul Brown should have read, “Every time I create a haircut, I feel good about what I do, and it feels great to help others. It’s a win-win situation.”