Make a Difference

One of the first things I did when I settled in Atlanta was find a good hair salon. A business colleague recommended a place that was near the office, so I checked it out. I still am a client there twenty-six years later – even though some of my stylists moved on to other salons or had babies and left to care for their young families. The salon and its staff have grown and matured; as have I.

About fifteen months ago, I found myself sitting in the chair of Don Shaw, owner of the salon. He knew I was a longtime, loyal client, but wondered why he never had done my hair before. I told him truthfully that, when I was younger, he intimidated me with his big personality and reputation. He just laughed. From then on, I learned that Don is a fun-loving, colorful, caring, and generous guy with a terrific “rags to riches” tale. When he started out as a teenager trying to break into the business, he took a job styling the hair of a TV anchorwoman. The pay was virtually non-existent, but Don took the chance, just hoping for a cup of coffee and a doughnut. The door was opened, a relationship developed, and the rest is history.

During a regular visit to the salon a few months later, Don made small talk by asking about my son’s upcoming Labor Weekend Wedding. I chatted away about the guest list and “mother-of-the-groom” debates over renting, making, or buying a dress. Then, hardly able to contain myself, I told him about the stunning Suzanne Ermann dress that was on order and being shipped from Paris (a black, satin and tulle, “haute couture” dress that I still cannot believe my husband signed off on!) and showed him a picture. “Well then,” he said, “a Chanel-style dress requires an equivalent hairdo. What time do you want me at the hotel to style your hair?” It never even occurred to me that the owner of the salon himself would do my hair for the wedding. I was thrilled and flattered.

On the day of the wedding, Don showed up at the appointed time, equipped with sprays and styling tools. He did my hair and, despite my insistence, refused to take a dime for his time or services.

And then I had an idea….

*     *     *

Don and Sylvia Shaw’s daughter, Donielle, died at the age of thirty-four of melanoma skin cancer. She was happy and energetic; a world-renowned hair colorist. She was diagnosed with a Stage 4 melanoma and fought valiantly for three years, before losing her battle. She left behind a husband, little boy, loving family, and many friends.

Shortly after Donielle’s death, the You Can Make a Difference Foundation (YCMAD) was established to honor her memory and legacy daily by raising awareness about the importance of early detection of melanoma skin cancers by educating beauty industry professionals and the public.

On behalf of Don’s graciousness and in honor of the marriage of my son and his bride, I made a donation to You Can Make a Difference. And since then, I have been contributing my time and skills to help the organization generate awareness about this deadly cancer.

*     *     *

Think about it. You and millions of people go to professionals for haircuts, massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, skin care needs or makeup consultations every day, week, month, or year. Typically clients purchase these types of services from professionals far more often than they visit their dermatologist! If properly trained, these same professionals could be among the first to identify a potential melanoma skin cancer on the scalp or other area on a client’s body. This training has the potential to save lives.

YOU can make a difference by choosing to do business with establishments of trained professionals; you also can get involved by learning more or donating to the cause. Check out the You Can Make a Difference Foundation. You CAN make a difference.

May is Melanoma Awareness Month!

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