"Hello Gorgeous!" greets surprised client at Southeast Cosmetology Academy
Little did she know, an unexpected day of pampering awaited Ginnee Siegel when she checked in for her facial appointment at the Minnesota State College Southeast Cosmetology Academy in Winona on Thursday, October 27.
As she entered the salon, the gathered students and instructors greeted her with a unison chorus of "Hello Gorgeous!" Cameras flashed, newspaper reporters took notes, and countless smartphones were raised to document the moment. Ginnee's first reaction was to look behind her and see if they were looking for someone else. No, they weren't!
Cosmetology instructor Jodi Heim had nominated Ginnee to be treated to the "Hello Gorgeous!" red carpet experience. Hello Gorgeous! is a non-profit organization that provides complimentary, professional makeovers and cosmetic education to women battling all cancers.
Jodi Heim's former salon in St. Charles was a Hello Gorgeous! affiliate. Minnesota State College Southeast is the first college in the country to become an affiliate, and Ginnee was selected to be the first guest in what is hoped to become a monthly offering.
A native of Winona, Ginnee now lives in the Chicago area, where she taught children with behavioral issues for most of her career. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, she returned to Winona for treatment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Her niece Gina Glasspoole was in on the surprise and helped Jodi coordinate Ginnee's schedule so that she would arrive on time and be free all afternoon.
"My niece told me they had called her with two free facials and offered me one of them. I almost didn't make it because I had to see the doctor in the morning," said Ginnee, who was convinced to come in for the appointment anyway.
"The look on her face when she walked in was priceless," student Tina Daffinson told the Winona Daily News. "It takes a lot of positive thinking to try and stay strong, be positive, and surround yourself with positive people."
Ginnee has been a client of the cosmetology salon for at least 25 years. "I love coming here," she said. "It's really enjoyable and it's nice being around young people. People have always been considerate and helpful -- and it's good quality work."
First up was a facial, followed by a manicure and pedicure. While enjoying a lunch donated by the Steak Shoppe, Ginnee viewed three outfits selected especially for her from Maurices. After lunch, she tried them on and chose her favorite pieces -- a new jacket, blouse, jeans, necklace and boots -- all of which she wore home at the end of the day.
After lunch, instructor Jodi Heim styled Ginnee's auburn wig and a second wig, which was another gift for her to take home. As Jodi expertly clipped and sprayed them, it was hard to remember they weren't Ginnee's natural hair. The final step in her day of pampering was a professional makeup application.
More than a makeover
The Hello Gorgeous! experience isn't about a beauty makeover in the traditional sense. It's more about caring for women who are facing tough challenges and giving them a "day off" to be pampered. And it can be an learning experience, too.
"It gives us an opportunity to teach [cancer patients] how to apply eyebrows if they don't have any, how to make it look like they have lashes when they don't, or how to work with a wig," Jodi Heim told a reporter from the Winona Post. "It's also an opportunity for us to educate them on questions that they might be afraid to ask otherwise."
After getting her photo taken with the students, Ginnee was escorted to her car by students who were only too happy to help her carry her gifts, which included a wealth of beauty supplies donated by L'Oreal, Redken, Pureology and Mary Kay as well as flowers and chocolates presented by the students.
"It's been awesome! I've never had anything like this happen before," Ginnee exclaimed. "I'll remember this forever. I feel very special supported, cared for, and loved."
She plans to come back again soon. "We'll see you again -- maybe with a few less photographers next time!"