Making seniors feel they matter

2020-02-25 06:03
Shariefa Hoosain with Charnee Swartz and Pauline Smith.PHOTOS: Racine Edwardes

Shariefa Hoosain with Charnee Swartz and Pauline Smith.PHOTOS: Racine Edwardes

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A local business is giving back to the community by treating seniors to a day of pampering. By giving their tresses some well-deserved attention – blowing out their locks and helping them to look their best – elders from Retreat, Steenberg and Mitchell’s Plain no longer feel neglected.

Charnee Swartz, the owner of Ignite and Co beauty salon on Military Road, said she had been struck by the idea one morning.

“I’m passionate about people and one day I just woke up and this voice told me to give back to my people. The first thing that came to mind was seniors – I thought of them and I knew,” she said.

After sharing her idea with her husband, Cheslyn Swartz, the owner of the salon, she saw that he was just as eager as her to provide support and funding.

She began the initiative to treat seniors to a free hair appointment every Wednesday in January. “They are pensioners. They can’t afford to go to the salons – I even had a lady crying because it was the first time she had her hair done in her life. Some of my clients have even started bringing jewellery and things to give to the seniors,” said Swartz.

“The R700 (a month) or whatever they get from the government is not enough to survive,” she added.

Her mother, also a pensioner, in part inspired her to give back. “I know the struggles she has, so I thought of them. To make people feel that they matter is important to me,” says Charnee.

Marilyn Collins (58) from Montague Village, in Lavender Hill, said her days were filled with mundane activities and that the initiative had given her something to do. “(If I wasn’t here) I’d be at home, watching TV, listening to CCFM and making a cup of tea or coffee,” she said. The eight women who attended agreed the staff made them feel welcome and comfortable.

Shariefa Hoosain (70), from Mitchell’s Plain, said she was involved in a seniors’ club near her home. They did activities, sports days and excursions, but Ignite and Co was one of the places that kept her looking her best.

Margaret Durban (71), who was a childminder before retiring, is accustomed to taking care of others. But her needs are not always met. In addition to receiving a fresh look, she said: “I’m pleased that I came here. It was nice to meet this nice bunch of ladies.”

Seniors who attend the free sessions are referred to the salon by organisations assisted by the department of social development.

Charnee said she had more in the pipeline. She also wants to help the youth.

“We are living in gang- and crime-infested environments. Our streets are flooded with idle youth,” she said.

Charnee will identify young women interested in receiving some grooming and will be doing their nails as a community service.

“This is also a call-out for others from any area to form part of the project. And if anyone wishes to donate refreshments on Wednesdays, that would be welcome,” she said.

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