For Janet Sivils' 60th birthday, she asked for 100 lipsticks. The beauty items weren't for her personal use, they were to donate to the Chattanooga Partnership's Victim Support Services Center to help inspire domestic violence victims.
Orlando, Fla.-based nonprofit Find Your Fabulosity uses donated lipsticks to help such women "rediscover her voice, identity, and beauty inside and out."
Inspired by her friend Sheryl Kurland, who was also collecting lipsticks in lieu of gifts for her own 60th, the Ooltewah resident joined the effort. Together, they helped bring the total number of lipsticks Fabulosity can distribute in both Orlando-area shelters and via the Partnership to 1,200.
Victims living at or working with the Partnership receive vouchers for clothes through the affiliated nonprofit thrift clothing store located on M.L. King Boulevard. There, they can "shop" for clothes both for everyday life and job interviews, Partnership employee Constance Dawes-Shazier said. However, makeup isn't often as easy to come by — though it can make a huge difference for women who have bruising or scars that they want to cover up, Dawes-Shazier said.
Anyone who arrives in search of help at the Partnership has access to case managers, court and child advocates if needed, counselors, financial help, shelter and more, all provided at no cost to the victim.
"Usually we stay full; that's the unfortunate truth," Dawes-Shazier said, adding that the Partnership provides services to both men and women and offers special services for the LGBTQ community.
Though victims are allowed to stay in the Partnership's domestic violence shelter for up to three months, many opt to leave in less time, if they have resources for an apartment or another place to live. But even when not living at the shelter, the victims have a variety of needs. And though a lipstick may seem like a small gesture, its importance in raising the victim's self-esteem is important, Dawes-Shazier said.
"It's a small thing that you can do that makes a big difference," said Sivils' friend Janice Meissner. "When I walked in the door with a basket of lipsticks, someone immediately saw it and asked 'Oh, what's that? Can I have that one?' It's just a way for women to connect.
"[Makeup] for women can almost be like armor. Everyone wants to feel beautiful."