Vanessa Howard endured domestic violence, homelessness and suicide attempts.
Her road to recovery wasn’t an easy one, but now the abuse survivor has vowed to uplift people in a similar situation.
Homeless For Nearly 2 Years
After leaving an abusive relationship, Vanessa was homeless for nearly two years.
She moved from shelter to shelter with her three children.
The 48-year-old from Tampa, Florida worked hard and now owns Giving Hands Beauty Salon.
She gives free monthly treatments at her salon to homeless women, cancer patients, and other domestic violence survivors.
‘Some of the women that come here is never being called beautiful before, so with just the affirmation of calling them beautiful and just, you know, welcoming them with loving arms the walls begin to come down,’ Vanessa said.
‘They just leave here just transforming from the inside out.’
The mother of three has run the salon for three and a half years.
Religion Inspired Her
Vanessa said it was religion that inspired her to start giving away free treatments.
‘I came up with the idea for doing a free session for the salon through a vision that God had given me to start giving back once a month to homeless women who were broken as I was,’ she said.
‘I was homeless for almost two years and I had tried to commit suicide on several occasions. I became homeless through my children’s father.’
‘I had to leave that abusive relationship and so I left him, and that was the start of my homelessness.’
Her daughters Sharde Brooks and Precious Stokes also help their mother with the free beauty days.
‘What prompted me to be a part of Giving Hands Foundation and to help these women is where we came from, being homeless before,’ Sharde said.
‘What I remember the most, is how people made you feel, how they treated you, like, you were less than and not equal to them.
‘Just making a difference in that one person’s life is more than enough for me.’
Vanessa makes sure all the women who come through her door feel supported.
‘The women when they come in, they come in with walls up, they come in broken, they come in also not knowing what to expect and so we greet them first of all with warm arms and just welcome them, making them feel loved,’ she said.
‘For me, it’s easy to love all these women because it’s a place that I come from.’
‘I just get overjoyed to see when women gain their confidence, gain their self esteem back and feel whole again.’