For the past few months, stylists Nikole Phelps and Kat Colosimo have been volunteering at Womxn’s Night at the Prevention Point Drop-in Center, cutting and styling hair for the many women and non-binary people who attend this event every Wednesday evening. According to Womxn’s Night Co-coordinator Teena Weisler-Vega, their services have been invaluable to the community.
“We love having Nikole and Kat spend time with our participants! In addition to making our participants feel more beautiful by cutting and styling their hair, Nikole and Kat are so kind and have very meaningful conversations in "The Drop Salon!"
Recently, Nikole and Kat shared their compelling reasons for volunteering with Prevention Point Philadelphia.
I started volunteering at Womxn’s Night after some volunteering during the warming centers over the winter. I saw how much Prevention Point was serving and loving on those who need it most in Kensington. I’ve been donating my time to cutting hair for houseless individuals ever since I started in my craft. I also work as a stylist in a salon. So I thought the idea seemed perfect to ask to join on Wednesday nights. I see how much of a difference just a haircut can make for someone. To feel beautiful, to feel human when sometimes the world makes you feel otherwise.
My favorite thing about volunteering so far is the energy of the staff, and also the folks that have come. We just have a great time, right down to the old-school R&B we sing along to. But the most rewarding thing is seeing these womxn happy and joyful after receiving their cut. The moment they look in the mirror.
Working one-on-one with someone, physically touching their hair, giving a haircut, is such an intimate way of being with another human, and in a way, they let their guard down a bit. There’s a sense of vulnerability in that some feel safe in sharing a bit of their story with you, or even just talking about life-things! Hearing their hearts and their stories, and getting to love on them in the process. Also, they’re just so much fun!
I wanted to note on a more personal level that Prevention Point has helped loved ones of mine (siblings) who struggle with substance use on the streets down there. I’m grateful to Prevention Point for having provided a place of support for them at times.
I started volunteering at Prevention Point after meeting my co-worker and friend Nikole through the salon we work at in Rittenhouse. I was doing similar volunteer work with survivors of human trafficking when I lived on the West Coast. When I moved back to Philadelphia in 2020, I wanted to continue working with womxn’s outreach organizations. Nikole told me about the amazing work Prevention Point was providing for the womxn and non-binary folks in the community and I was so excited to be a part of something where I could continue using my skills to help people in my community.
"Giving space for people to share their own stories is a big part of volunteering your services as a hairstylist."
My favorite thing about volunteering is being able to connect with other womxn and help them feel good about themselves. The womxn I’ve met through Womxn’s Night are some of the most inspiring and beautiful people I’ve ever met and being able to support them in any way that I can is an honor and a privilege. I’m so grateful for the time we get to spend together and I’m honored that they put their trust in us to help them feel beautiful. Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves regardless of their situation or circumstances so being able to provide that experience for these womxn means a lot to me.
Giving space for people to share their own stories is a big part of volunteering your services as a hairstylist. Sometimes you’re a support system and a shoulder to cry on, other times you’re a cheerleader and you get to celebrate milestones and achievements with people. It’s a really special thing for people to allow you into their lives in that way. Being able to provide positive physical contact and create a safe space for someone to share their story with you is a really humbling feeling and a gift I’m happy I’m able to share with those who need it.