A day of love and affirmation
Alegria pampers residents on Valentine’s Day.
By Paul Hebblethwaite
With overtones of happiness and excitement that everyday life and relationships rarely reflect, Valentine’s Day is a holiday that people either love or hate. For residents at The Salvation Army Alegria, the daily grind of HIV/AIDS treatment, the pursuit of new income, and the search for housing make Valentine’s Day particularly difficult to embrace.
Knowing the challenges of life at Alegria, Alex Davis, a full-year DOOR (Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection) Hollywood intern, organized an event with all of the fun of Valentine’s Day that also celebrated the beauty and worth of the women in the program. Staff and volunteer beauticians provided residents free hairstyling, manicures, and makeup consultations; food and refreshments added extra sweetness to the day.
A day spent pampering the women of Alegria was less an affirmation of Valentine’s Day than it was one small piece in a larger effort at Alegria to create an environment and experience that reflects respect and admiration for the people the program serves. Unlike larger society’s preoccupation with quick riches and easy answers, Alegria’s programming reflects a belief that new life comes through a thousand affirmations. Celebrating self worth and a positive image is a critical component of HIV treatment and Alegria’s holistic delivery of services.
The goals that residents set in case management would be challenging for anybody, but when a person has to push through physical fatigue and other symptoms of illness and medication, these challenges are daunting. Finding and holding on to hope is essential to working through the obstacles and pursuing family stability and health. Often the greatest barrier to hope is a client’s lack of confidence. A day of affirmation on Valentine’s Day offers an alternative message: that each resident is created in the image of God, and that they do not walk alone.