​Beauty 2 the Streetz Founder Brings Self-Care To LA's Homeless—But She Doesn't Want Praise

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Playing ​Jessica Alba Surprises Beauty 2 the Streetz Founder Who Makes LA's Homeless Look + Feel Beautiful

After Shirley Raines suffered the unspeakable loss of her two-year-old son five days before his third birthday, followed by her father and her son's father, she thought she might never escape the darkness.

Until a church trip to Los Angeles' Skid Row neighborhood to feed the homeless completely changed her life.

"[My organization] Beauty 2 the Streetz came about because of my pain," Shirley explains. "It wasn't until I hit the streets and I got to Skid Row that I realized, 'Oh man, this is where I should have been all along.'"

While handing out food, Shirley kept getting compliments on her colorful hair and makeup, which made her realize that the people she was feeding might also like a little beauty in their lives. She got makeup samples and put them in little bags to hand out. Before long, she was bringing out buckets of water and borrowing folding chairs from a local store so she could wash and style hair. "They started calling me the makeup lady," she says.

Fast forward a few years, and what started as a special treat for about 30 people has turned into Shirley doing hair and makeup for countless members of the homeless community—not to mention feeding hundreds of people (300 to 500 at a time) out of her car, multiple times a week.

"This journey has given me a sense of purpose," says Shirley.

And we, no surprise, aren't the only ones inspired! Moved by her generosity, LA Financial Credit Union donated $10,000 to Shirley's cause. Plus, actress and founder of The Honest Company, Jessica Alba, helped us surprise Shirley with 10,000 Honest products, including makeup and hand sanitizer, for the advocate to share with the community.

"I want to lift up and support others in our community that are doing good, and you are—every single day—such an inspiration," Jessica tells Shirley. "Thank you so much for what you do, for giving people dignity and letting them be seen and heard."

But, ever the generous soul, while Shirley appreciates the praise, she shies away from it. "Your words are so kind," she says, "but I think what I do should very well be normalized."

She continues, "We're feeding people who are hungry, we're clothing those who are cold. I appreciate you guys recognizing them and giving us a platform to share with the world this amazing community."

UPDATE: Shirley’s been very busy since we first met–like, winning CNN'’s 2021 Hero of the Year Award busy! Find out what she and the team are planning to do with the incredible $100,000 grant here. 

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