A cosmetology school in Yucca is teaching it’s students that physical beauty is only part of its mission. Soon it will become a safe haven for homeless students and victims of abuse, something that Elite Cosmetology student Ashley Gaona says she knows all too well.
“I am no longer afraid, I am a victim of sexual assault, I am a victim of domestic violence.”
In fact, she says this school has changed her life.
“As a victim or survivor you don’t know where to go, or where to turn, but and the fact that the owners here, opened that door, it made it so it’s possible to have something safe.”
Thanks to the owners Jodu Hussey and Maurice “Moe” Divirgilo, this school is taking on something bigger than cosmetology.
“We had so many students coming to us saying, we have to drop, I can’t afford to live here, I have no place to go, I’m sleeping in my car,” Jodi told NBC Palm Springs.
Moe added that it was heartbreaking to hear students tell them that they have to drop out because of the lack of housing and/or money.
“That’s my biggest thing. When somebody comes up to me and says that they can’t feed their children, it rips me apart,” he added.
Plus, it is not just homelessness, but domestic violence that they want to obliterate from the community. Lizzie Schmelling, the registrar for the school, is passionate about this project, and is optimistic about the impact it will have on the community.
“We’re calling it the Elite Red Strong Project. And we are looking to build homes not just for our students but for the community.”
A community that will be housed, safe, and given the opportunity to get back on their feet.
“You gotta start somewhere, and starting it in a community as small and intimate as this one, who knows where it’s going to go,” Lizzie told NBC Palm Springs.
Ashley says she is hopeful that the abuse and student homeless epidemic that has broken out at this school will be greatly reduced, if not eliminated, once this housing is in place.
“And I think that’s the greatest gift. To be able to be a miracle for people and that’s what the school’s done for me and that’s what we want to do for others,” added Ashley.
Owners Jodi and Maurice say they have already spoken to a few contractors and even have a blueprint design for the housing complex. They envision it to be a gated community, with the parking lot residing in the center of all homes (for safety purposes). Furthermore, they say that they hope to get this project underway as soon as possibly, but they need donations in order to do so. If you would like to help or want more information on the Elite Cosmetology School, feel free to click on the links found below.