Out of the deepest depth of darkness and despair, there was born a person who became a bringer of light.
That’s the way one community activist working on the famous Skid Row streets of Los Angeles described Shirley Raines.
An unstoppable advocate for the thousands of homeless people who eke out a tough daily subsistence existence, Raines wasn’t always in a position to offer a helping hand to others.
Cramped Hotel Room
The year was 1990. Raines was living in a cramped hotel room with her nearly three-year-old child and the child’s father. She was 22 years old, and the small family had fallen on hard economic times.
So Much Worse
But things were about to get much worse. Shirley took her boy to stay with his grandmother for a night and so the lad could get out of that depressing hotel room and play in a yard. By unlucky circumstance, the boy ingested some of his grandmother’s medications and died 24 hours later. It was five days from his third birthday.
This tragedy even sent Shirley Raines spiraling down into a dark place from which there seemed no escape. Things got worse when the father of her deceased son succumbed to colon cancer. After months of struggle, Shirley decided to commit suicide.
However, it so happens she was six months pregnant. She opted to put off her final exist until after the birth of her child. That was enough of a lifeline for Shirley to hang around plant earth for just a while longer.
Helping in a Homeless Kitchen on Skid Row
One day, through a mutual church friend, Raines found herself helping out in a homeless kitchen on Skid Row. There was something about interacting with hundreds of people who were walking through life in a kind of entranced state of hopelessness and defeat.
She recognized that feeling. That had once been herself. She also discovered that doing something to help these people provided an unexpected balm for her soul. To her amazement, each act of caring and providing for others felt like an act of self-healing.
Shirley Raines had discovered her life purpose. She began cooking 400 meals a week out of her tiny Long Beach apartment and then making the drive to Los Angeles to feed all the folks. To her amazement, it wasn’t hard work — it was pure joy.
Raines then created “Beauty 2 the Streetz,” a free service that provides hair care, styling, makeup, and free clothing to give something beyond just the basics to people who are desperate to receive anything.