ANTIOCH -- Larissa Barton sat next to a window with the sunlight shining on her freshly curled, light brown locks and her glowing face as a makeup artist put the finishing touches on her eyes.
Barton, a mother of three children ages 5 and under, rarely has the time for pampering, but this day was the exception. In addition to her flawless hair and makeup, the Modesto resident had her face waxed and nails done courtesy of students and graduates of Delta Beauty College and other professional cosmetologists.
"It makes you feel important and helps you to feel good about yourself," Barton said, as she checked out her eye makeup in the mirror. "I never take time for myself. You can spread joy because you are happy."
Barton was one of nine graduates of the Shepherd's Gate women's shelter in Brentwood who received these free makeovers and career and job inspiration from local agencies at Delta Beauty College last weekend. The event was organized by Antioch resident and Brentwood salon owner Ayan Kusharma, who is a domestic violence survivor herself.
"I am grateful and happy for them to smile," said Kusharma. "This is my mission. This is what I'm supposed to do. When you look good, you feel good."
In addition to the day of pampering and beauty, the makeover included free career advice, employment guidance and resume support from EastBay Works and Opportunity Junction. EastBay Works employer liaison Rene Tucker said these women need this type of outside support even after they have graduated from a program like Shepherd's Gate.
"It is very helpful to them. They need this to inspire them," she said.
Opportunity Junction student Desiree Rivera said she was glad to attend the event and expose the women to the free educational internship program in Antioch, which can help them boost their confidence, earn realistic wages and support their families.
"It is for people who don't have the time or money to go to college," Rivera said.
Antioch resident Candace Rugg said she has been clean and sober for three years, since attending Shepherd's Gate. Rugg added that there have been additional life struggles since that time, but she has been able to overcome them through her religious faith and community support.
"This was really nice," she said. "It was a real treat to enjoy the day with no kids."
The women each took home a bag of goodies, including makeup, a bracelet and a portrait of their new looks from a local professional photographer. They also were provided with lunch.
Kusharma never imagined that she would become a victim of domestic violence as a former medical technician and longtime hair stylist. She hopes that this makeover and future similar events can help these survivors become better parents and citizens.
"People look at you, and they think they know your story. If I can overcome this, anybody can," said the owner and master stylist at Trindee Lil Diva's. "I want to break the cycle. Our children know. They feel when you are happy."
Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.