Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate the special love one has in their life. It can be a romantic love, it can be the love between friends and it can be the love between a parent and a child. While it is a joyous time, it can also be a painful time for those who have lost someone dear.
The loss of a loved one can be difficult, especially when it is the loss of a child. But it’s downright devastating when the loss is the result of senseless Black on Black gun violence. It leaves a hole in one’s heart that can never be filled.
In an effort to bring awareness to his Stop the Violence initiative and to brighten some otherwise darker days, Stop the Violence-Pittsburgh gave the gift of relaxation and beauty through its Valentine’s Day Program.
“We wanted to brighten up the days of women that had lost someone and didn’t have anyone to do something special for them,” said William Marshall, director of Stop the Violence Pittsburgh and B. Marshall Productions.
Through support from various salons and spas, the program gave “gifts of love,” that include free beauty and health services, to several women who lost children and loved ones in Allegheny County to the senseless violence.
Marshall said he used social media outlets to get names of victims and then contacted several salons and spas, which then openly volunteered their services. The recipients have through March 14 to make their appointments.
“When he (Marshall) asked, there was not even a question about participating,” said Tenel Dorsey, owner of DREAMZ Hair Salon, in Homestead. “Giving back is something we do all the time and it helps us too. The art of living is giving.”
Scott Kerschbaumer, co-owner of ESSpa Kozmetika in Aspinwall and who also donated their services said, “These women already have normal stress, then add the loss of a close person and it takes a toll on a person. This gives them an outlet and an opportunity to forget about their problems, if just for the day. It gives them something to look forward to and time to rejuvenate. It’s all about health, wellness and stress relief.”
Other salons that donated their services were Dana’s Styling Salon, Fahrenheit 212, LaLa’s Salon & Spa, Ambiance Hair & Nail Gallery and Sugar Wax Studio Inc.
“We appreciate the sponsorship and support of the local businesses who stepped up to the plate to give back for this event,” Marshall said.
Connie Moore, who lost her son Hosea Davis in January and was selected to receive a gift, said, “It was so uplifting when he (Marshall) called; but when he showed up, it made me feel much better to know that someone cares.”
Moore’s son was found dead in the 6400 block of Rapidan Way in Larimer. He was shot 16 times, many at close range. The suspected killer is still on the run.
Moore said the gift of love from Marshall helps with the healing process. “I really needed it. It’s one thing to feel bad and look bad. Now I can feel bad and look good,” she joked. “Thank you and God bless him (Marshall). If he can make others feel the way he made me feel; he’s doing good. He’s doing God’s work.”
Luenna Coward knows Moore’s pain all too well. She has lost three sons, Harry Coward, James Jones and Don Jones, to gun violence, all within an 11-year span. She now spends her time reaching out to other mothers who have lost their children.
“It felt great, but strange; I have been helping other mothers who have lost their children, so for me to get something was a feeling of relief and wow. It made me feel good,” Coward said. “To have happiness helps with the healing. This helps, because society forgets after the funeral ends.”
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