Haircuts and Human Touch: A Stop on the Beauty Bus Journey

April 8, 2013

Beauty BusWe connected with Beauty Bus Foundation during the 2011 Social Innovation Fast Pitch program. Founder Wendy Levine shared the Beauty Bus story in her outstanding 3-minute pitch at the competition (watch here). Today fellow founder Alicia Marantz Liotta, shares with us another story from their amazing journey! 

Getting to the barber takes planning and coordination, just finding a babysitter for his young twin boys can be a tough venture and that’s only the first step. Scott Lew and his wheelchair are loaded, along with his ventilation gear, into the family van. Wife, Annabel, and caregiver file in after. For the Lews, safety is of utmost importance when taking trips outside the home. All possible variables are taken into account – Scott’s head shaking loose during the car ride, a vent hose popping out, suctioning of saliva and manual breathing assistance during his barber visit. The trip is possible, but it’s not easy.

Scott Lew, loving husband, father, and avid writer, has been living with ALS for the past 8 years. The neuromuscular disease, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, has taken over his ability to move his body (he is quadriplegic), speak, swallow or breathe. Everyday use of mechanical aids to carry out his life-supporting needs is routine and communication via a speech device that tracks his eye movements allows Scott to continue verbalizing his sharp wit.

Scott’s struggles with a luxury that is so often taken for granted – the ability to leave the house, get to the barber shop, take a seat, receive a haircut and leave feeling renewed – are more than an able bodied person may imagine. In learning of Beauty Bus Foundation, Scott’s interest was piqued at the ease of receiving an in-home haircut and a compassionate human touch.

“I still want to look my best at all times. Call me vain, but you wouldn’t believe the number of people who see me, look past my wheelchair and ventilator face-mask, and say stuff like, ‘Man, your hair’s getting long.’ Either because of my partial baldness, which exaggerates my otherwise bushy hair when it goes bad, or because of the genuine goodness of people, who don’t want to comment on my obvious disabilities and are just trying to make small-talk – I’m not sure, but it’s clear – I need regular haircuts.”

Scott was unsure of what was to come in his first Beauty Bus visit, only hoping for an experience that left him comfortable and safe.

“Beauty Bus volunteer Janine exceeded all expectations. At 5 feet tall and 100 lbs. soaking wet, with her nose ring and punk-rock cute skull and crossbones sweater, Janine packed a lot of personality into her small person and, I discovered, talent. Not only did she give me a great haircut (I’m easy, just short please), she also gave my wife, who has layered wavy hair that makes styling her difficult, an excellent cut as well.”

Beauty Bus client Scott Lew

“I can’t say enough positive things about the Beauty Bus. We found their service so extraordinary and helpful. I’m sure there are thousands of people with disabilities and special needs who could use their help.”

Beauty Bus Foundation delivers dignity, hope and respite to chronically or terminally ill men, women and children and their caregivers through complimentary beauty and grooming services and pampering products. Please visit their website at for more information on their programs, services and how to give or contact them directly at (310)392-0900.

You can also purchase tickets for their annual Beauty Drive coming up on May 5 by clicking here.