Once a year, a little bit of magic happens at the Luigi Bruni Salon in Birmingham for a group of formerly homeless and addicted women.
The women, a part of the Grace Centers of Hope year-long Life Skills program, receive free makeovers including haircuts, color, makeup and eyebrow treatments. It’s a 12-year partnership between Grace Centers and the salon’s owner, Luigi Bruni, which helps the women transform their self-esteem.
For Laura Saloka, 27 and mother of a three-year-old girl, it’s an experience she said she’s grateful for, but doesn’t deserve. The Life Skills Program marks Saloka’s eighth trip to rehab, having been addicted to heroin since she was 18-years-old.
“I feel a little spoiled to be here,” Saloka said. “Because of the way I lived my life, I almost feel like someone else should be here right now, but I’m very grateful … Sometimes it seems impossible to get clean, I know it seems impossible, but you have to give yourself the chance to feel worth it.”
The morning of makeovers is about more than just providing a service to the women for Bruni. He said he still keeps in touch with many of the women he’s met over the years, leaving their names on the salon’s friends and family discount plan should they ever need his assistance again.
“It’s intense, you know? They come in and they’re nervous, and we’re nervous, but by the end of the day we’re all hugging, kissing and crying. Every emotional you have runs through you,” Bruni said.
The makeovers are also a precursor to the center’s annual Women Helping Women Luncheon and Fashion Show. Residents of the center’s Life Skills program walk the runway with professional models during the event, which is meant to symbolize an “unveiling of their new lives,” according to the center.
Two Michigan designers will be showcased at this year’s show:
• Bonnie Foley, creator of Christian LaRue
• Katerina Bocci, globally recognized designer with a luxury bridal collection
This year’s show, luncheon and silent auction takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester. Tickets are $100 and can be found at gracecentersofhope.org.