Disclosure: I am a brand ambassador for McDonald’s. I am being compensated for this Hairtastic Happenings at Ronald McDonald House of Arkansas post.
Guys, I’ve found two more reasons to rave about Ronald McDonald House of Arkansas!
Recently, I had a chance to visit the hair salon at Ronald McDonald House of Central Arkansas. The one-room salon is a bustling place for all kinds of hairtastic happenings on Mondays, when local hair stylists volunteer their time to style hair for the patients and families staying at RMHCA.
“We try to fit in as many [appointments] as possible,“ said Amber Cummings, a stylist at Joel’s Salon in Little Rock, who was volunteering the morning of my visit.
“We usually have a mix of patients and family members. Today, we have two dads, three moms, four kids, and a grandmother on the list. Most people want a full cut and a blowout.”
That is what seemed to be in the plans for Angela Valtierra, a mom who was having her hair styled during my visit. She said she had first stayed with her now six-month-old baby, Catalina, at RMHCA for two-and-a-half months when Catalina had her first surgery. Now, they are back for a second surgery, and have been at the House for two weeks this time.
According to Paul Henry, communications director for RMHCA, and Donna Csunyo, programs director, there has been a huge outpouring of support from stylists from all over central Arkansas – from salons such as Joel’s and Caracalla – and even from northwest Arkansas.
“Joel’s donated supplies for the salon,” said Henry.
“And the stylists come on their days off. These guys have been amazing about being flexible,” said Csunyo. “As they come, a lot of them recognize we need something and they often bring it with them the next time and leave it.”
Henry explained that the idea for the hair salon came from a man by the name of Wes Wooden who was taking a tour of the facility in the early stages after it was built.
“Wes raised the $15,000 it took to build it out. He got his company to donate supplies. He went to different stylists and salons and asked for donations.”
Wooden, a former hair stylist who is now a regional sales manager for Modern Salon Services, said someone from the House had asked if he could collect travel size products for the House.
“I reached out to my company, Modern Salon Services and we donated $4,000 of travel and personal products. I asked if they thought they could use a place to offer salon services, and that was the start of the project. We thought we would be the first, but actually of the 365 [Ronald McDonald] Houses worldwide, we are one of eight that now have a salon on-site.”
Wooden explained that one of the companies he represents in his work is Davines, an Italian company based on being 100% green and based on sustainability and healthy products. Davines has a yearly “I Sustain Beauty” campaign which focuses on the creation of sustainable programs which give back to the community.
This hair salon brainchild of Wooden’s actually received special mention, a check to RMHCA for $1,000, and an award at a recent Davines conference.
Wooden mentioned one of the best things he has seen is many salons launching charity programs of their own and acknowledging the RMHCA project as inspiration. He added his company is now involved in charity work whereas it previously was not.
What an amazing chain of events, sparked off by one hairtastic idea!
And these hairtastic happenings aren’t the only things going on in that cute little space.
“On Friday, our salon went from being a hair salon to an eye clinic,” said Henry.
The eye clinic was the fruition of a collaboration between Absolute Digital, Indizen Optical Technologies and Europa Eyewear.
During my visit, I got to meet with Josh Johannes and Shannon Toler, who were both instrumental in the eye clinic. They were back at RMHCA for a second day to deliver the glasses they had just spent the weekend putting together.
Johannes is the lab director of operations for Absolute Digital, the company which created the lenses. Toler, the business development manager of Eastern United States operations for Indizen Optical Technologies, was on hand with special software to help with the design of the lenses. IOT collaborates with Absolute Digital to produce the lenses in Cabot, according to Johannes.
After patients and family members’ participated in eye screenings on the previous Friday, Johannes and Toler worked through the weekend to have the glasses ready for the recipients on Monday. Johannes said the frames were donated by Europa.
There are big things happening at this House, guys! Our community is so lucky to have this amazing place and all of the volunteers and services that come out of it! Be sure to check out the post I wrote last year about the brand new House.
Don’t forget to donate your spare change in the donation canisters at your local central Arkansas McDonald’s! Last year, $140,419 was donated through McDonald’s donation canisters with 100% going to Ronald McDonald House.
I hope you enjoyed learning of these Hairtastic Happenings at Ronald McDonald House of Arkansas!