Shirley Raines, the woman who has become a beacon of hope to women and men in Lost Angels, has been announced as the 2021 CNN Hero of the Year.
“The entire journey hasn’t been easy. I stand here today a broken woman,” said Raines with tears running down her chicks. “I am a mother who lost a son, and there are many people on the streets without a mother, and I think it is a big challenge”, She added.
The CNN Hero of the Year award was presented to Shirley Raines by Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa. Online voters selected her from a list of this year’s top 10 finalists.
Shirley Raines runs a non-profit Beauty 2 the Street organization that has been in operation for the last six years. The charity has been providing clothing, food, and hair makeup services to many people in Los Angeles.
Together with her team, Raines, every week sets up shop with the aim of transforming a section of Skid Row, home to one of the country’s most significant concentrations of homeless persons, into a beautiful outdoor salon.
Her objective is to make homeless people feel like other human beings by offering a facial, haircut, hearty hug, or meal.
“It is not all about doing their hair or giving a makeup, it is also the physical and emotional touch,” said Raines. “People need to be talked to and feel that there’s someone who cares for them. The pandemic caused a lot of disruptions, and we could no longer do makeups or haircuts. That’s when we realized the importance of a physical touch”.
Shirley Raines will get $100,000 as the 2021 CNN Hero award winner to promote her work. Together with the other nine finalists, she will also receive a cash award of $10,000.
Raines recounted her struggle for many years with financial insecurity after she lost her only son, Demetrius.
She started Beauty 2 the Streetz to reach out to those who feel abandoned and have lost hope in life. Initially, only her children helped her distribute food, drinks, and beauty products to the homeless before the organization started to expand.
Raines saw the potential of her initiative and decided to officially register it in 2019 as a non-profit organization.