Makeovers for Nipomo residents

nightengayles@aol.comJanuary 1, 2013 

Denise Lopez, family advocate/case manager for Nipomo Family Resource Center, wanted to do something special for her families, “just a little gift for the holidays.” Most of the mothers she knew did not normally have the funds to go to a beauty salon.

Many of the moms have “a history of depression, a history of bad incidents in their lives.” Denise wanted to help them feel a little better about themselves and “brighten their holiday.”

She looked around for a beauty salon that she and her volunteers could use.  Triny Iñiguez of Soñadoras Beauty Salon in Nipomo had donated certificates for the annual Fun Run in Nipomo, so Denise decided to ask her. Not only did Triny donate the use of the salon, she also helped with hair dying and snacks and brought clothing to donate to the women.

Denise’s fiancé, Eddie Santana, also volunteered his time by giving haircuts to fathers and sons. Eddie is “very artistic,” Denise says, and often helps out at events, such as doing face painting for the kids. Other volunteers included Stella Medina and Leticia Zendejas.

Elizabeth Perez is a parent leader at the Nipomo Family Resource Center and volunteers in many ways, including giving out toys to parents for Toys for Tots. She has four kids in Nipomo schools. “It was really, really nice,” she said. At age 38, it was only the second time she had been in a salon, and she was in this one for three hours.

A bunch of her friends were there, too, making it a fun social event. She got her hair dyed a reddish color and received a makeup job.  “I was very thankful for Denise and the lady from the salon (Triny).  It was so relaxing and totally made my holiday.”

Denise received a $100 donation from her agency but volunteered her time after work and also bought makeup and snacks for the event. She has worked at the Resource Center for about a year, having grown up in Watsonville, and graduated from Fresno State University.

How does she like the work? “I love it,” she replied. “I get to see families that really need help. I connect families with services, such as therapy, clothing and food.” She helps with such problems as a moldy house or landlord issues.

She also runs parenting and exercise groups, does intakes and case managing, and is involved with community events such as the annual Fun Run. Most of her families are Spanish-speaking. As with most nonprofit organizers, she doesn’t know whether her grant will be renewed.

Triny was very pleased to donate her salon for the makeover event. She opened the salon on a Monday, when it’s normally closed. She brought some brand-new clothes from a clothing store she used to own. “It feels good to give. We had a very good time,” she said.

Two of her daughters helped: 18 year-old Sajira Castaneda made shrimp ceviche. Twenty-two year old Lili Castaneda helped, too.  The salon, Soñadoras, means “dreamers” in Spanish. It is named for another daughter (now 20) who was diagnosed with leukemia and is a “dreamer.” (She is doing well now.)

Soñadoras is at 505 Orchard Road. Information: 863-3251.

Gayle Cuddy’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at 489-1026 or

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