LIHUE — Glitz and glam was center stage at the Plantation Coffee Company on Aug. 5, but it wasn’t beauty queen and part-time model Aaliyah Keala Nero in the spotlight.
Instead it was the ladies in Plantation Coffee Company’s 12-step program, Love the Journey, that were spoiled for the afternoon during Keala’s Big Sister Club’s make-over service project.
“I was so excited and loved making the beautiful ladies smile,” said Nero, a sixth-grader at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. “From the pampering of facials, to the makeup and hair, I enjoyed every moment with my new, gorgeous aunties.”
Nero chose the project because Plantation Coffee Company’s Love the Journey program has made a difference in the lives of those involved, helping them stay focused and on track to a different life path.
“They are really amazing women, trying to make a new fresh start from their past alcohol and drug addictions,” Nero said.
“We just wanted to make sure they knew they were queens and precious ladies of God.”
The impromptu beauty shop was set up at Plantation Coffee in Lihue, and amid the curling irons, eyeliner, facial masks and hairspray, the women talked story about their lives.
It’s exactly what the women in the Love the Journey program needed to boost their spirits, according to Plantation Coffee manager Kawika Kualii.
“I wanted to find a way to impact their lives and help them stay on track. I wish those that couldn’t make it were here to experience the love and fun we had this past Saturday. It was definitely a moment I will never forget,” Kualii said.
After five hours of makeover magic, Nero and the ladies in the program decided to make the event an annual occurrence.
“Now with the help of Stephanie Shinno and Keala, (mother and daughter co-founders of Keala’s Big Sister Club, Inc.) we now have a annual incentive these ladies and gents can look forward too,” Kualii said.
Shinno, who has been supporting her daughter’s desire to help those in need through her foundation, said she was overwhelmed with joy after the event.
Keala’s Big Sister Club was inspired by a gift card the family received while spending two months at the YWCA women’s shelter in 2012, and the goal of the foundation is to provide support to those in need — with a focus on children.
“When you serve others, it really feels good. But I am more proud of my daughter Keala; she really has a big heart to serve,” Shinno said. “I feel very blessed to have a daughter like her. Together, we are grateful to our community who was there in our times of need and just happy to pay it forward.”