Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Cape Cod Hairdresser Boosts Angel House Clients' Self-Esteem

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 @ 10:44 AM
DSC 0673 resized 600Luanne McCollum (left) doing a client's hair at Angel House.

Once a month Luanne McCollum hops in her car and makes the one-hour trek from Provincetown to Hyannis.

It is a trip she has been making for roughly the past five years. She does so not for her own enjoyment, but the joy it gives to those who are struggling to overcome life’s obstacles.

The visits to Hyannis allow McCollum, a hairdresser by trade, to ply her talents on clients at the Angel House shelter. She will cut, color and curl their hair, helping boost the self-esteem and confidence of women who cope with the trauma of homelessness and addiction.

The seed for volunteering at Angel House occurred after McCollum read an article about a program, Dress for Success, that provided business attire for disadvantaged women on Cape Cod in order for them to go on job interviews. “At the time I thought I could do their hair,” said McCollum, who owns Waves Salon in Provincetown.

About a year later, she began doing just that after talking to a customer who worked for HAC and who introduced her to Angel House.

Over the years she has volunteered her time at the shelter, she has grown to appreciate what it provides to the women and the children there. “I feel this is an amazing facility and it is very much needed,” she said.

McCollum focuses primarily on the mothers in shelter, though occasionally she has been known to work on some of the staff including Angel House manager Lil Burlingame, assistant teacher Amy Brigham and case manager Paula Farren.

“We love her dearly,” Farren said of McCollum. “She is a sweet woman.”

“She is a sweet woman,” Burlingame agreed. “We are very appreciative for what she does for these women and for us.”

As the pair praised McCollum in their office, about 15 feet away she draped a barbers cape around the neck of Courtney, an Angel House client. On this day in December, she would be getting a blow dry.

“I think it is awesome she comes in here and gives us her time,” Courtney said.

She was the second of five clients that McCollum was scheduled to work on last month. Sometimes she has more appointments, sometimes she has less.

Regardless of whether it is clients or staff, McCollum refuses to take any payments. And in December and May (Mother’s Day), she has a supply of hair products she gives to the clients as a gift.

Burlingame acknowledged that being pampered by McCollum makes the clients feel special which is important for their self-esteem.

That may explain why McCollum continues to venture into Hyannis, month after month, year after year. “It feels good to do this for these young women,” she said. “A lot of them haven’t had the chance to have their hair done professionally in a long time because it is expensive.”

And, perhaps most importantly, she said, “most people feel better after getting their hair done.”

Tags: volunteers, Luanne McCollum, HAC, Paula Farren, Angel House, Amy Brigham, Lil Burlingame

Internship Experience at HAC Reinforces Career Aspirations

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

DSC 5638 resized 600

Though Rebecca Brigham is only in her junior year at the University of Massachusetts, she already knows she wants to work with children once she graduates.

“That is where I am aiming,” Brigham said while inside the play space at Angel House at the end of August, two days before she returned to college.

Brigham’s first real practical experience working with children occurred in this same spot at the Hyannis shelter where she was an intern this summer. There she was supervised by her aunt, Amy Brigham, the assistant teacher at Angel House.

“I wanted to see the clinical side of this,” Rebecca said. “And I love kids too so that helped.”

So once a week starting in June, Rebecca would visit the play space, holding, feeding and caring for children as young as a few weeks old, some of whom were born addicted to drugs.

Rebecca has witnessed firsthand, and played a significant role, in the development of these children in their formative years. “It has been an amazing program, just the way every kid is given their own personal regiment,” Rebecca said. “They kind of cater this to each kid and their specific needs.”

While she has enjoyed working with each child, Rebecca admitted she grew attached to one who, not unlike other children at Angel House, initially, “couldn’t hold her head up, couldn’t crawl, was very quiet and kept to herself. Now she is crawling, developing and has this great personality which is an amazing thing to see.”

Interns like Rebecca are not unusual at HAC. In fact one of Rebecca’s childhood friends she grew up with in Barnstable, Allison Rolfe, also spent the summer as an intern at Angel House.

Beyond simply assisting staff in their duties, Amy said that interns are a valuable component at Angel House, allowing children who have suffered early trauma to be exposed to new caregivers. “Having new people come in here helps them to understand what life is all about,” Amy said. “Yes, there is a routine, but it’s not static and things do change.”

The internship program, Amy said, also allows Angel House staff to improve upon their own skills as they teach what they have learned to students who may one day find themselves in a similar work environment after college.

Tags: Interns, Angel House, Rebecca Brigham, Amy Brigham