“Look at my hair. I love it!” Roseanne Needleman, 72, exclaimed after examining her new haircut in a tiny compact mirror in a room at Seagull Services.
Needleman was one of 23 people in Seagull Services’ day program for adults with disabilities who got a free haircut from two Great Clips stylists Wednesday. The clients took turns getting situated in two chairs in front of a sparkling Christmas tree, where the stylists chatted them up as festive tunes emanated from a TV in a far corner.
When each person was finished, they got a look in the mirror and a flurry of compliments from the Seagull staff.
“You look so beautiful,” an aide tells Needleman, then explains that she had been looking forward to this day.
Hairdresser Rosie Maltass needed something to look forward to 15 years ago when she started giving free haircuts. Her 17-year marriage had just ended, and her children were to spend that first Christmas with her ex.
Instead of wallowing in her sadness, she went to the Children’s Home Society of Florida in Stuart to cut hair and help out. She continued the new tradition when she moved to Palm Beach County, and Seagull board member Mickey Nolen mentioned she should start doing it there.
“I love helping people and making them feel good,” Maltass said. “It makes me feel good that I make them feel really special.”
Maltass works at the four Great Clips salons in Palm Beach Gardens and recruited the owner to help this year. One year, before she joined Great Clips, she did 80 haircuts by herself. She took off from work the next day.
Everyone wants to look good when they celebrate the holidays, Seagull CEO Barbara Nurenberg said.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the people we serve who don’t always have access to the kind of personal attention a hairdresser gives,” she said. “It makes the holidays even more special.”
Many of Seagull’s clients have extremely limited incomes, although some are able to work in packaging and light assembly at the achievement center, where the day program is held, and others can work at places such as Publix, the Solid Waste Authority and Jack the Bike Man.
A huge grin took over one man’s face as he got his haircut.
Kristy Snyder, 36, shook her head and said she couldn’t remember the last time she got her hair cut. Now, she’s ready to visit her parents in Century Village for Christmas Day.
“I like it. It helps not get hair all over the floor in my bathroom,” she said. “She did good.”