published Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Rare day to relax

  • photo
    Becky Delaney-Sherrill, 50, gets her nails done for the first time Friday by women volunteers with the Georgia Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Women's Ministries. The Free Spa Day was held at the Loose Cannon Gallery building. "I've never done anything like this," said the mother of three, and grandmother of seven. Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Light, beauty-shop chatter echoes in the wide building space off Rossville Avenue as the tables, covered with lotion bottles and polishes and nail clippers, filled.

Holly Bledsoe, a frazzled, Alton Park mother of two who has been without a job for more than a year, finds a seat and puts out her hand.

Like most of the woman who came to the free spa day advertised in the halls of the Chattanooga Community Kitchen and the Chattanooga Housing Authority office, Bledsoe can’t remember the last time someone did her nails or rubbed her shoulders.

It had been three years since her hair had been cut and curled. She missed it, but there was so little time and money to take care of herself these days, she said.

“This will give me a lot of confidence to go out and find [job] interviews,” she said.

About 75 low-income and homeless women were treated Friday at the free spa day hosted by a Seventh-day Adventist ministry called God in Shoes. The group of more than 50 female volunteers, from North Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, arranged the day to minister to women without.

“Many of these women are so used and abused. They feel discarded,” said Jo Dubs, a Cleveland, Tenn., native who founded God in Shoes in 2004 and ran the event. “They don’t know what it is like to come to a quiet place. We try to give them love and respect and show them their value.”

Dobs said she had hoped for a better turnout, but the group will host another free spa day in May to try to reach out to more women on the streets.

A full menu of typically expensive spa services was offered. At one station, women had their hands soaked and scrubbed. At another, their nails were shined and painted. The teenage girls and grandmothers who manned the tables took their time.

Four stylists washed, cut and styled hair at mobile sinks. Massage therapists tried to work knots out of backs and arms. Other women helped administer gooey face masks and scrubs.

And at the end of their treatments, the women picked out a quilted blanket and a pair of shoes to take with them.

“I haven’t gotten this attention in a long time,” said Jeanette Gaines, a 53-year-old from Alton Park who cares for her nine grandchildren.

Becky Delaney-Sherrill, who saw an ad for the spa day at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen and came with her 22-year-old daughter, Melanie, said the event gave her a chance to connect with her daughter. The two of them hadn’t spent any real time together in a while, she said.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” she said. “Today is a girl’s day.”

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

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