Beauty 2 the Streetz
For the past six years, Shirley Raines and her organization, Beauty 2 the Streetz, have been a constant on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Originally, the group distributed items such as food, clothing, hair and makeup, but now the group provides health and hygiene items to the thousands of people located within the approximately 50-block area.
“I would estimate we’ve got about 8,000 people who are sleeping out on the streets or in some of the shelters,” said Raines. “There are more women on the street than before,” Raines said, explaining that a women’s shelter had closed down during the pandemic. “The resources had dried up.”
The most recent official count in early 2020 claims there are around 4,500 individuals on Skid Row. Raines estimates there has been an increase of over 40 percent since the pandemic began.
Raines visits the area each week, setting up “shop” at the corner of 5th and Townes to help those she refers to as “Kings” and “Queens.” Her intention is to make the homeless feel more human through haircuts, facials, meals or simply a hug.
Before the pandemic, Raines was making 400 meals per week in her own kitchen. Then, as COVID-19 swept through the area, Raines found it challenging to find enough food and water to purchase. She asked her social media followers for help. “We just had to use our best judgment and figure out some ways to still keep them fed, while keeping them safe, and while keeping us safe,” Raines said.
Raines went through a series of tragic events when she lost her son, grandmother, and her son’s biological father in the 1990s. Helping others is what gives her hope. Now, as vaccination rates continue to rise, Raines is providing food and supplies twice a week and connecting with local groups to help the individuals of Skid Row know that there is hope for them, too.