Hairstylist family offers heartfelt services for free at care center
By Dianna Troyer
Friends of Becky Webb know to never call her on Monday morning because she won’t answer her phone. That is when she and other family members offer free hair care to residents of Parke View Rehabilitation and Care Center in Burley.
“When we tell people we do hair at Parke View, they don’t understand what it really means,” Becky says. “Residents here become our friends. We feel sad when they pass away and cheer them on when they’re able to go home.”
Becky, her sisters Natalie Smyer and Brenda Olsen, their mother Sandy Garrard and her aunt, Bonnie Jones, are carrying on a family tradition of service dating back to 1965.
Sandy’s mom, Phyllis Beck, Helen Greenwell and other hairdressers started the labor of love.
“They worked in a janitor’s closet with a sink and two hair dryers,” Sandy says. “It was the hospital then, and they did hair for residents who lived in the care center wing.”
When a new hospital opened in 1995, the building was converted into Parke View and the volunteers continued coiffing hair.
They nicknamed their philanthropic project “Take a Chance Beauty Salon.”
Brenda and Sandy are professional cosmetologists. The others volunteer with shampooing, trimming and drying hair for 25 to 35 residents.
Residents get more than a free haircut.
“We make them feel good about themselves,” Natalie says while braiding Donna Drage’s hair. “People always feel better after they get their hair done. Sometimes they need something more—a hug or pat
on the back—and we’re happy to provide that.”
While Natalie braids one side of Donna’s hair, Becky does the other. They know how she likes it: two tight braids doused with a lot of hair spray.
“They’re amazing, aren’t they?” Donna asks. “I feel good after they’re done with my hair. It’s good for my health, isn’t it?”
The sisters say it’s good for their health too.
“It brings as much joy to us as it does to the residents,” Natalie says.
Becky says, “We can’t wait for Monday to come. When we go home, we feel good because we’ve been able to serve.”
They gladly take time off their jobs in Cassia and Minidoka counties to be with their Parke View friends every week. Becky is involved with a family dairy in Raft River. Natalie sells sugar beet seed
with her father. Brenda owns Sweetheart Manor in Burley. Sandy had a hair salon in her home. Bonnie cares for her disabled daughter.
When Parke View residents ask how much a haircut costs, they always get the same answer.
“It costs a smile, and you’ve already paid,” Natalie says.
Sometimes they care for their former high school classmates, teachers and employers.
“I felt honored to do my high school English teacher’s hair,” says Becky, 56. “We’re serving those who once served and cared for us. Sometimes we bring our family to meet our second family here.”
Becky’s daughter did a high school project at Parke View.
“She interviewed residents about how positivity affected their lives and wrote about it,” Becky says.
When Natalie’s son Jaxon was a child, he befriended a resident named Ruby.
“When she was under the hair dryer, he would turn pages of a magazine for her,” Natalie says. “Then he’d push her back to her room.”
When he got a puppy, he insisted on naming it Ruby.
“One night he woke up at 2 a.m. crying,” Natalie says. “He told me Ruby had died. I thought he was talking about his dog, so I showed him she was alive. He told me he was talking about his friend at Parke View. The next morning we found out she had passed away about the time he was crying. Somehow he knew.”
Like Jaxon, Natalie came to help when she was a child.
“After kindergarten, the bus driver dropped me off here,” says Natalie, 48. “After their hair was done, I’d push them back to their rooms.”
Sometimes the bond they have with residents extends beyond the salon.
“Family members have asked us to fix their loved one’s hair for their funeral,” Brenda says. “The other day Connie asked me to make sure her hair was permed for her funeral. She smiled and told me,