By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Seniors in Simi Valley treated to 'spa day'

Patty Tushinsky has her hair blow-dried by Lisa Jaffe during Saturday’s free “spa day” at the Ashlee Manor Senior Apartments in Simi Valley.

A free manicure with light-blue nails was all it took to make Maria Mibina feel beautiful.

“I feel very nice,” said Mibina, 58, who lives on a fixed income and uses a mobility scooter because of physical limitations. “I love that they did this for me. It was so nice because it made me feel beautiful.”

Mibina was among a group of senior residents at Ashlee Manor in Simi Valley who received free cosmetology services — including haircuts, manicures and makeup applications — during a charitable effort.

“It really brightens up their day and gives them some self-esteem that they probably need,” said Eric Dee, publicity chair for Simi Valley Kiwanis, which provided doughnuts, biscotti, coffee, cookies and punch. “It’s nice to have an impact and make them feel special.”

Many seniors are living on a budget that in many cases does not allow them to afford these services, said Don Knypstra, founder of Ridone, a nonprofit that provides “compassionate cosmetology” services.

“Many of these seniors are lonely. ... Receiving a simple haircut or manicure by someone who shows them that they care gives a sense of worth,” Knypstra said.

Such was the case for Gwyla Husner, 79, who got her hair and makeup done. “It was wonderful, magnificent. It couldn’t have been better.”

For these people, the cost of cosmetology services is almost impossible for them to afford, especially those on a tight budget, Knypstra said.

“A haircut costs about $20; we save them that cost so that money may go to buying food or paying for a prescription that they may need,” Knypstra said.

At Ashlee Manor, residents include able-bodied, financially sound people who may come out for the company because they are lonely, said Jill Upson, of Simi Valley, local missions chair for StoneBridge Community Church.

“Most are on fixed incomes, and many struggle financially; many are Section 8 housing recipients,” Upson said. “By offering these small things, the seniors feel loved, and it raises their spirits and makes doing without things a bit easier.”

Gina Scalzo, of Simi Valley, volunteered her cosmetology services for the first time Saturday because she thought it would be a fun experience.

“One lady didn’t get her hair cut for six years, and I got to cut her hair,” said Scalzo, 18, who gave haircuts, blow dries and manicures. “These people are so grateful that we’re here giving our time. I’m touched and having a great time.”

Cosmetology student Kassidy Valdez, of Camarillo, said she enjoyed offering these services for free.

“Some people can’t afford it, and some people haven’t had haircuts for years,” said Valdez, 19. “It’s good to help people who need it.”

Cindy Luis, a volunteer who took glamour photos of the seniors after their makeovers, agreed.

“I enjoy helping out when I can,” said Luis, of Simi Valley. “It shows them that we value them in our community and that they’re not forgotten.”

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