Rachel Doyle is happy to share a quote she lives by: "The greatest exercise for the heart is making someone smile." And thanks to her grandmother, that is what Rachel is doing today.
“When my grandmother passed away I really wanted to honor her memory. I thought about what I like to do. What do my friends like to do and how can we make someone smile.”
The answer was GlamourGals , Rachel’s vision to bring two fragile populations together for the betterment of both.
“I found that by connecting teens with the elderly through beautiful, poignant experiences I was able to serve them and honor my grandmother’s memory.”
GlamourGals, which Rachel founded as a high school sophomore back in 2000, is a nonprofit organization that creates teen leaders through service with the elderly living in nursing homes. Volunteers give complimentary facials and makeovers to aging women, while developing the leadership skills that will benefit them in life.
“The emotional baggage that comes with aging can be devastating. GlamourGals is creating a movement of compassionate teen leaders who care about the women who have shaped their past and that will affect their futures.”
Today, 70% of the million-and-a-half residents in senior homes are women, 46% of whom have no living children and fully half have no relatives to visit them.
“The visitors’ parking lot at many senior homes remains empty,” says Rachel. “We are able to lift the curtain that divides the two generations and provide a stage and an audience to the forgotten and the frail.”
Since Its founding in Rachel’s hometown of Commack, Long Island, GlamourGals has grown to encompass more than 1,200 volunteers in 13 states, who work weekly to provide more than 130-thousand hours of volunteer service to senior communities. Rachel is working toward an impressive goal of providing one million hours of intergenerational service by 2015.
And GlamourGals is not just about manicures and makeup. What lies beneath is a sense of mutual respect between two generations that often eases the isolation of aging and creates new, profound friendships between the young and the experienced. Rachel is poetic about GlamourGals purpose.
“Just as an artist uses his paintbrush, our volunteers use makeup as their tool to bring beauty and dignity to a frail hand, along with the words ‘You matter to me. You look beautiful today.’”