Local stylist finds way to have bigger impact

One Arboretum stylist is helping people in need see themselves in a new light.

(Above) Omar from One7 gets his hair styled by Sonshine Britton.

(Above) Omar from One7 gets his hair styled by Sonshine Britton.

Kat Crawford was listening to a sermon at Elevation Church about serving others when she realized her calling; how to take her everyday skills and change the world with them a little bit at a time.

“My gift was cutting hair,” Crawford, who works at Planet 21 in the Arboretum, said. So she met a friend at Starbucks and told her to start writing as Crawford’s plans for SOUL 139 poured forth. The Christian ministry’s name stands for Strong, Obedient, Unique and Lovely, Crawford said Wednesday, July 31, while discussing a recent outreach project, and 139 stands for the Bible’s Psalm 139: “For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

The SOUL 139 events, which currently take place once every three months and are coordinated with groups such as Hope Haven and the Matthews Free Medical Clinic, not only provide free styling for people who need to be uplifted, but also companionship with a SOUL~Mate and a guest speaker. Crawford and other volunteers helped people served by Matthews Free Medical Clinic on Sunday, July 28, with a program called Revive. The events usually help 15 people each time and feature six stylists. Crawford gets help from her friends in the business, as well as a venue to host the guests thanks to her boss at Planet 21. In two years the group has helped 90 people, Crawford said.

It’s a big impact that Crawford said is much more than just a new hair do, especially when she gets to see the same people multiple times and follow their journey. Crawford told one story of a woman who was staying at Hope

Haven, a center that works with homeless who are suffering from a chemical dependency. The woman was unemployed when Crawford first met her, but got a job the day after attending a SOUL 139 event. The next time Crawford saw her, the woman still had the job, and the next time Crawford learned the woman was able to finally move out of Hope Haven and into her own place.

“I think (the events) just help give them that boost,” Crawford said. “You look good, you feel good. We dress up their outsides and help them emotionally and encourage them.”

The next event will be in October, but Kat hopes to eventually move them to once a month. Volunteers are needed to help at the events, and donations are needed for the project and to fill gift bags that each client receives.

Find more information on SOUL 139 at the group’s website, www.soul139.org. Planet 21 Salon is located at 8040 Providence Road in the Arboretum.

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