Beauty to Lift Women’s Spirits
– Good Shepherd Centre for Homeless Women & Children
Written by L.A. Works Volunteer Reporter Wendy Green
Project Leader: Jessica Bavel
Who is Jessica Bavel?
I suppose I’m just a regular girl. This is always a difficult question to ask yourself who you are. I suppose I’m a lot of things. I try be a good sister, a good daughter, a good aunt. I grew up in LA. I’m one of four I have 2 brothers one sister. My mother is Puerto Rican and my father is black, I’m very fortunate to get the best of those worlds. I love to hang out with my family we have so much fun. We might throw on some salsa music my mum will get and start dancing its just easy and good fun, I just love my family.
Tell me about your journey as a volunteer.
I’ve been in a position where growing up was difficult and no matter what happened I remained determined- only because I had someone there. I had influences that impacted me either directly or non directly, it’s just the thought of having someone there. I really would like to be that person, a person who helps others. Its the reason I signed up with L.A. Works its actually why I started volunteering. I do a lot of volunteering such as working at Food Banks, Downtown Woman’s Center and elderly homes but my focus has always been with woman. I suppose its because I am a woman and I can relate to them on a larger scale.
Tell me the project you lead called Beauty and Charm: To Lift Women’s Spirits.
I just love this project. The project runs once a month, volunteers come together to offer facials, manicures, pedicures, make up application and you don’t have to be a beautician its just about women enjoying each other company- eating , talking, laughing, its really good fun.
Do you have a volunteer story to share?
Yes I do. One day I had a lot of volunteers turn up, the clients were so spoiled they had so many women pampering them. I noticed one of the clients who had signed up, hadn’t shown. I inquired and was told she was in her room and was feeling pretty low, she didn’t feel like joining in. With a bit of coercing she came down and sat in a chair within a few minutes there was a group of women all over her. We had so many volunteers that day, that she had a person on each foot and hand, someone giving her a facial, someone making her a coffee.They were all laughing and having a great time. At the end of the day she came up to me and told me how much the experience meant to her. She had never experienced people to be so kind, she had never been pampered like that in her whole life. Stories like that are what this project is all about.
How do you feel volunteering impacts the community?
Establishing a connection with another human being is important, its fundamental, we relate to each other, we connect we one another- that should be embraced more. Unfortunately in our society there is a complacency, an interdependency, people are only worried about themselves. When you connect with someone its wonderful, dare I say even magical. Some people say magic doesn’t exist but when I connect with woman Ive never met before and there’s a connection, it’s really powerful, its magical.
What do you believe makes a good project leader?
A project leader needs to have sincerity. The ability to lead and inspire people. To have passion for what your doing which then creates a common goal. If a volunteer can see how much work and effort you put in as a project leader, hopefully that inspires them and in turn they too can make a difference.
What are 5 words would sum you up?
Happy, Bubbly, Loving, Sassy and Compassionate.
Tell me a little about your heritage.
I’m African American. I’m a mix of black, French and American Indian. I live in California, an actual LA native.
Tell me about your volunteer experience
Well today I’m volunteering at a project called Beauty and Charm Lifting Women’s Spirits. It was really touching and lots of
fun. I haven’t volunteered in so long and I wanted to start the New Year volunteering at least once a month. I found L.A. Works and I liked the fact they had something for everybody. It caters to all personalities, interests or an intention that you would like to accomplish from volunteering. I found Beauty and Charm which is totally up my alley. Women bonding over manicures and facials-how much fun does that sound.
Volunteering is really important to me. My dad passed away when I was 12. Part of the grieving process is to find ways to heal, to cope, to have acceptance. One of the ways I did that, was when I was in my freshman year at University, I volunteered with Relay For Life. In my junior year we didn’t have Relay for Life at my University (we didn’t meet the quota) so I started a team at another University. We had one month to raise $1000, we ended up raising $2000 which is exceptional for Hampton Virginia. From that the Atlantic region contacted me and wanted to reopen Relay for Life at Hampton, which I headed. I then started Colleges Against Cancer. My intention was to try and raise money to help fund research so no other person, had to lose a person to cancer like I did. I had so much fun with those projects, I just wanted to get back into volunteering when I got back.
What do you gain from volunteering?
Well that’s interesting. I don’t really volunteer to gain a personal gratification I just like putting smiles on peoples faces, so I suppose if I’m able to do that then thats what I gain. I don’t need to know someones personal story. I just like being together, laughing hanging out. I really like meeting new people. I actually thought I would be coming with a bunch of friends but they couldn’t make it, so I came alone and I ended up making new friends.
What would we be surprised to learn about Jade Howard?
My father was a legendary Jazz recording artist but unfortunately I cannot play an instrument, sing or dance.
Ive seen you at so many volunteer groups tell me when you started?
I’ve been volunteering in LA for a few years. I was searching the internet for things to do and volunteering came up. I was interested in what that was and meant, so here I am.
You volunteer a lot, I’m guessing on a weekly basis, tell me why your so passionate.
Well it sounds silly but as I said I was just looking for something to do and the word volunteer came up. I searched some more and thats when I found L.A. Works. L.A. Works had a calendar that made it very easy . I thought that is a great thing to do and gave it a go. I do it every week so I can be involved with the community, I want to participate. I did try other places but L.A. Works just made it so simple and easy.
What do you gain from volunteering?
People saying thank you. People commenting they feel inspired and motivated by us coming by.
Do you have any volunteer stories?
Not individual stories but people are always so grateful. People are so appreciative and I’m appreciative for the opportunity, it creates a great vibe.
What makes a good volunteer?
It’s an ongoing process I don’t think its one factor that makes someone good at it. You learn every time you volunteer.
Did something inspire you to be so active within the volunteering community?
No not really I just wanted something to do. I wanted to be involved and L.A. Works was there and made it easy to volunteer.