Out of the Box – July 2010

August 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Columns, Contributors, Out Of The Box

An Unsung Hero

By Mary Anne Street

Mary Anne Street

Last week, Oprah had a hairdresser on her program who coifs the stars. He’s French (that helps) and he has a flair for hair. He also charges around $750 for a cut, shampoo and style. That is outrageous, but he’s completely booked and you have to wait in line to get him.

Kevin Grant (pictured below) charges $12 per shampoo and style.  Yes, you read that right–$12; of course, you have to be in a nursing home.  Kevin has a successful salon of his own in Savannah called KG’s Salon & Productions. He charges $55 and up for shampoo, sets, and so forth. He’s busy, and he has 3 assistants working with him—Ciera, Glenice, and Clrona. But he gives his time to nursing homes, doing the grooming for those who can’t afford regular salons and/or can’t get out to have their hair done.

My mother is in Oceanside Nursing & Rehab Center (912-786-4511). She’s limited in what she can do—she’s in a wheelchair and can’t walk, she has diabetes, and on and on. Her ONE pleasure is getting her hair fixed once a week. She’s lucky—she’s got family who helps with expenses, but many people get an “allowance” from Social Security and it’s very small, making it difficult to afford the “extras.” One shampoo and set could wipe out a person’s entire monthly stipend.  Kevin to the rescue!!

I asked Kevin why he does it, why he devotes so much time helping these people.  “I took care of sick grandparents,” he said. “I spent lots of time with them and I saw their needs and how much doing my grandma’s hair made her spirits rise, and I just wanted to do that for other elderly people.” He contracts to eight different nursing homes, spending a few hours at each per week, cutting hair, shampooing hair, setting hair, giving perms—just about anything residents need in the way of grooming.

And Kevin gives so much more than the hairstyles. “I feel so old and ugly if I don’t get my hair done,” said one resident; “Getting my ‘do’ makes me feel pretty and part of the world.” My mother says it’s about the only thing that she has some “control” over. “I can get my hair done and feel like a real person, and pay for it myself; I even give him a tip.” Kevin gives residents a tie to the world beyond the nursing home walls, and for many who have no family, no outside contacts, no way to feel good about themselves, Kevin gives humanness, kindness and a way for them to feel beautiful.

When asked what motivates Kevin to continue, he said he actually learns many things from the residents. “My mom always said I was an ‘old spirit’—I love the stories of the past, the way of life, the ways of another time. I can listen to these people, hear their stories, and it’s fun and interesting to me. They get to share their stories and I get to hear them—a win-win for all of us.”

Kevin’s been doing this work for ten years and when I asked him how long he’ll continue, he said, “I love what I do and I guess I’ll continue until I become a senior.” He’s now 33. Kevin is one of those un-sung heroes we never know about; one that makes a difference in many lives.

We thank you, Kevin.

Mary Anne

Mary Anne lives on Tybee with husband The Tybee Handyman. Contact her at:  MaryAnne@tybeevacationremtals.com

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