Hair, nails and smiles

Sam Green/Cortez Journal Southwest Colorado Community College student Mariah Baker gives Edith Threlkeld a manicure at Vista Mesa Assisted Living.

Special to the Journal

It's a meeting of young and old when cosmetology students from Southwest Colorado Community College volunteer their services to the residents at Vista Mesa Assisted Living Residence. In the process, both benefit.

For the past three years, cosmetology students have donated haircuts, manicures, perms and shampoo-sets to the elderly residents of the Cortez facility. Currently up to 10 students visit Vista Mesa twice a month for three and a half hours.

"You should see the faces of the senior citizens when they see the young people come. Their faces just light up," said Debra Dodson-Randall, a cosmetology instructor at SCCC. "They enjoy the attention and the chance to visit, as much as they do the services they receive. I have so many of them say to me: 'You don't know how much I appreciate this'."

The volunteer work also benefits students, said Brenda Maez, cosmetology instructor at SCCC, who started the nursing home visits three years ago when the cosmetology program first began at the college. "Students wouldn't get as much practice with hair as they do by visiting the nursing home. But they learn so much more than hair - they learn how to treat people, what went on in former generations, how to deal with people with Alzheimer's and how to be patient."

The students even postponed their Valentine party at the college in order to make an extra visit to Vista Mesa to help residents prepare for a Sweetheart Ball on Valentine's Day. The students were very busy doing hair and nails that day, Maez said.

"The residents just love us going, and they're always very grateful. The students come back feeling so good because they made their clients feel so good," she said.

Brenda Knapp, cosmetology instructor, said, "The students are giving their skill and time to the community. It teaches them respect for elderly people. Unless they're around the elderly, they don't see that all the time."

The cosmetology program at Southwest Colorado Community College offers an associate's degree as well as a number of certificates, including a new nail technician certificate. Students learn to do haircuts, color, perms, manicures, pedicures, and facials and skin care. Students are prepared to take the state licensing exam after completing their classes.

Cosmetology students welcome clients from the community at a discounted price for all services, and senior citizens and students get a further discount. Services available at the college campus include haircuts, color, perms, manicure, pedicure, facials, "backcials," and waxing. The nail technician class is taking evening appointments for manicures, pedicures and nail art. To schedule an appointment at the college, call (970) 564-6270. The SCCC campus is at 33057 Highway 160, east of the county fairgrounds.

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