LIHUE — Aaliyah Nero is planning a special night of spa-style make-overs to lift the spirits of those in the “Love The Journey” drug, alcohol and incarceration transitional program.
But she needs a few more helping hands to pull off the second make-over scheduled for Oct. 6 at Plantation Coffee Company in the Lihue Plantation Building — a make-up artist and two hairstylists, as well as people willing to donate gift cards and cash to make the project happen.
The Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School student hosted her first make-over party in 2017 with five ladies in an event that included moisturizing face masks, make-up and hair, jewelry and a photo shoot with “before-and-after” photos.
“The most inspiring moment at last year’s make-over service project, besides it being our foundation’s first of its kind, was to see the smiles on the aunties’ faces,” Nero said. “They really enjoyed themselves and appreciated it. I like making others feel good about themselves.”
Nero has been reaching out to the youth on Kauai through her foundation, Keala’s Big Sister Club, with annual gift-card giveaways to those in need. Every year she celebrates her birthday with the giveaways, but it’s more than just her own birthday that she remembers when she gives out the gift cards.
It marks a memory from 2012, when her family spent time in the women’s shelter. They received a $25 gift card from an anonymous person during that time, and the memory stuck with Nero.
Since then, Nero has been working through her foundation to lift up, inspire and encourage those who are facing tough circumstances in life, targeting both youth and adults in campaigns like the gift-card giveaway and the make-over event.
Stephanie Shinno, Nero’s mother, said she works alongside Nero to help facilitate the events because many who are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions or other tough life circumstances live with self-esteem challenges or self-hatred because of past circumstances.
“No matter where you came from, it is never too late to turn your life around and believe you are beautiful and worth being loved,” Shinno said. “Aaliyah and I don’t want them to continue to think no one cares. We care, we get it, and we just want them to believe they are beautiful and worth fighting for.”
Anyone interested in participating or donating to the make-over event can call Nero at 631-1644.
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.