Anndrea Webb is one of about 50 women who took part in Our Place Society’s annual beauty day event Friday morning. She, along with many other women at the event, understands the impact feeling beautiful can have — even if it’s just for a day — for those living on the streets or at a shelter.
“It’s nice to be pampered, having a day like this I was so excited because I never get to do anything like this on my own,” said Webb. “Yes, I have money from disability but in the past, honestly, I’ve gone for things that weren’t that great.”
Webb has been living at the My Place, Our Place’s sister shelter, for the past month and a half. She was in the middle of a manicure Friday when Black Press Media caught up with her, trading in her long green acrylic nails for short red nails with gemstone accents on a few fingers with the help of a volunteer, Andrea Craig.
It was Craig’s third time at Our Place that week. She started volunteering at the community hub about six months ago and said she didn’t expect it to be such a life-changing experience.
“You sit down with someone and within 20 minutes you know their life story … there’s something about holding someone’s hand,” said Craig as she filed down Webb’s nails. “I’ve had people fall asleep when I’m doing their nails — I thought it was really cute — she wakes up ‘I must really trust you’ and then falls asleep again.”
Both Andreas laugh.
Webb said life at the shelter is hard but coming from living in “skid row” on Vancouver’s east side — it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Webb has been addicted to crystal meth and heroin for the past three years – after a violent, traumatic encounter with the father of her two kids left her wanting to feel numb.
“I lost my mind. I didn’t know what to do and that was the first thing there to comfort me was crystal meth,” she said. “It did exactly what I wanted it to do — shut off the pain … and I have an addictive personality so it just kind of skyrocketed to a downward spiral of hell.”
Webb was able to find a bed at Sandy Merriman House and from there she said she was “scooped up” to My Place, where she made the decision to get off drugs. About a month into her decision to get sober, Webb said she’s had a few slip-ups but is excited for the next steps as she gets ready to enter a week-long detox program on Monday and from there, stabilization for another 30 days.
“I never really took care of my hair or my looks or anything when I was on the street, because what’s the point … I just started to really get hard.”
Webb said her life was good before the drugs took hold, and she wants that back.
“I had a two-bedroom place, I had a full-time job and I had my kids. So it was only a small blurb, but it was a really hard life learning, life lesson,” she said with almost a laugh.
Despite watching her friends “lose their minds” to addiction, Webb said the hold drugs had on her was ironclad.
“I got my son’s name tattooed on my arm so that in case I ever wanted to pick up drugs with this arm I would look at his name and think ‘ok, do I want to do this?’ After a while, I was sticking a needle in that arm looking at his name and not being able to feel anything.”
Amongst the volunteers and family members crowding around tables of fresh snacks, cosmetics and toiletries that have all been donated, there’s a feeling of hope and happiness in the room.
This is Emily Staniland first time volunteering with Our Place after seeing something on Facebook and she said it won’t be her last.
“Something like a decent moisturizer, or being able to sit around with a bunch of ladies and talk about frizz or eyeliner, is just one of those little parts of community, a little luxury, a little piece of brightness,” Staniland said.
Judging by the smiles plastered on participants faces, the 10th annual beauty day event was a success and organizer Erin Stott agreed.
“I think it’s going amazing,” Stott said. “Everybody’s having fun, I have enough volunteers … [and] enough stuff to make the girls feel special.”
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