How Post readers helped homeless women have a happier holiday

Updated Dec 21, 2017
Generous Palm Beach Post readers flooded the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Donald Ross Village in Palm Beach Gardens with treats and donated clothing, shoes and accessories for 10 homeless women who enjoyed a day of empowerment on Dec. 14. Photo courtesy of Homewood Suites by Hilton General Manager Liz Oliver

Three weeks ago, Liz Oliver was sitting in her office looking at a meager pile of clothes. It was the fewest she’d received since she started putting on a day of empowerment for homeless women around the holidays six years ago.

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The big event was less than a week away, and she still needed shoes, clothes and undergarments for the women from the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County, who’d be pampered at the Homewood Suites by Hilton she manages on Donald Ross Road.

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But donations began pouring in after a story ran in The Post two weeks ago, Oliver said.

“It was amazing. It was the most successful year yet,” she said. “Thank you. That was because of your article.”

Every other person who walked up to the front desk was there to drop off donations. Oliver’s 500-square-foot office was filled with clothes, jewelry and books for the women, she said. The generosity was so extravagant that the hotel had to have the center where the women live pick up a truckload of items two days before the event and another the day after.

As a result, 10 women from the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County got to “shop” for new wardrobes in two oversized suites at the hotel on Dec. 14.

People brought cookies and bouquets of flowers. A teacher from Marsh Pointe Elementary School gave each woman a brand new bag filled with Clinique products. One woman made sure each of the women had plush robes for a spa treatment, and rose petals were scattered on the floor. A SPArtie’s Mobile Day Spa consultant helped the women primp.

This year, a life coach, mortgage consultant and etiquette coach met with the women.

After they finished dressing, they went downstairs to the hotel dining room for a dinner of ham and sweet potatoes. Karaoke followed dinner, and an Adele-Beyoncé sing-off ensued, Oliver said.

The women had been very shy when they first arrived. By the end of the day, the transformation was complete.

“The difference from when they first walked through the door to the end of the night — I was blown away,” she said.

When it was time to say goodbye, Oliver was in tears. So were some of the hotel guests who rubbed elbows with the women in the dining room.

“They were shining, and they were glowing,” Oliver said. “They were so grateful that it got through the whole place.”