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Ellijay, GA
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Members of the North Georgia Medical Center Auxiliary and residents of Gilmer Nursing Home settled into a new beauty shop facility Thursday, Aug. 29. Above, Sandra Freeman, left, is shown sharing a lighthearted moment with Mary Spiess. Center, volunteers Nancy Grenough, left, and Carolyn Trice, right, put curlers in Velma Lord’s hair. At bottom, Debbie Bowen checks out her new hairdo before leaving the beauty shop. (Photos by Whitney Crouch)
 
 
 
by Whitney Crouch
wcrouch@timescourier.com


Nancy Grenough volunteered to work with the North Georgia Medical Center Auxiliary the week she moved to Ellijay. 
The former dress shop owner was inspired to do so after seeing the positive impact some of her customers were having at hospitals near her Florida home. 
As part of her auxiliary duties, Grenough joins other volunteers in the beauty shop at Gilmer Nursing Home once a week to trim and style residents’ hair. 
“I always like to look my best and I’m sure these ladies want help to look their best, so we’re here to help them,” explained Grenough, whose mother was a hairdresser. “It gives you the satisfaction of helping people. I’m hooked now … it’s quite rewarding.” 


A new room for new dos

The beauty shop, which has long been a part of Gilmer Nursing Home, recently received an upgrade in the form of a larger room in which to operate. 

The newly painted and renovated space has everything one would expect from a salon — tall mirrors positioned over spacious countertops cluttered with curlers and combs, a line of hair dryer chairs against the wall and, of course, plenty of good conversation. 
“Times are tight, but people were still generous,” stated activities director Tammy Baker during a dedication ceremony for the new shop Thursday, Aug. 22, as she recalled the many individuals who helped make the new beauty parlor a reality through donations and assisting with a variety of fundraisers. 
Carolyn Trice, who began volunteering with the auxiliary four months ago, also expressed her appreciation to those who donated to the creation of the new hair salon, which caters to both male and female nursing home residents. 
“It’s just amazing that people would donate to help (others) feel better about themselves,” she remarked. 
Creating a new space for the residents and auxiliary beauticians has been in the works for a couple years. 
Previously, a room connected to the main dining room was used for this purpose. As Baker recalled, the area was small and “didn’t lend itself to comfort.” As a result of its location, the auxiliary volunteers also had to suspend or rush their activities in order to work around the residents’ lunchtime.  
In an effort to alleviate these problems, a former physical therapy room was converted into a more spacious beauty shop space. 
During the dedication ceremony, Emuel Sanford, a minister who represented the First Baptist Church mission team that helped with the project, expressed the hope that the room will be a place “where people can come and renew their dignity” and build friendships with one another.  
“I think it’s going to be nice and touch a lot of people’s lives — everyone who comes in the nursing home,” Baker added. 
The beauty shop was dedicated in honor of Gretchen Haas and in memory of former residents Audrey Davidson, Margaret Milton, Sharon McKeown and Catherine Waddell. 
“They were very much loved here and in the community,” Baker remarked.


Being and receiving a blessing
Each of the auxiliary volunteers who spoke with the Times-Courier was enthusiastic about the larger space that has been allotted for the beauty parlor, but they were even more eager to talk about the joy they receive from working with the nursing home residents each week. 
Sandra Freeman first came to work in the salon after seeing a notice in the Times-Courier advertising the need for a “hair roller at the beauty shop” in Gilmer Nursing Home. Nearly six years later, coming to the South Main Street facility each Thursday morning to volunteer is the “highlight” of her week. 
“I really look forward to it … making (the residents’) day a little brighter. They’re always a blessing to us,” she stated, explaining how she particularly enjoys getting to know the residents and cutting up with her fellow auxiliary members. 
“Above all it’s about caring,” added four-year volunteer Pearl Davis as she yielded a curling iron and can of hairspray. “It makes you feel good to share their stories. They are so pleased to get their hair done. It’s just a joy. You have a bond with them.”


Getting involved
Dianne Fowler, president of the auxiliary, applauded the weekly salon volunteers, stating, “Without these ladies, the beauty shop would not be possible.”
She went on to add that more volunteers are welcome and they do not have to be professional hairstylists to make a difference.   
“No we’re not beauticians, but we do our best,” stated Fowler with a smile. 
“You don’t know the difference it makes for people to come hold your hand,” Baker added as she spoke of the positive impact volunteers have on the nursing home residents. 
In addition to manning the beauty shop at Gilmer Nursing Home, there are a variety of other projects in which auxiliary volunteers can get involved to help better the health of the community. From running the hospital information desk to throwing birthday parties for nursing home residents to providing academic scholarships for individuals pursuing academic degrees or certifications, the auxiliary stays active throughout the year. 
For more information about volunteering with the auxiliary, call (706) 276-4741 or visit the website www.northgeorgiamedicalcenter.com. Applications are available at North Georgia Medical Center and Gilmer Nursing Home.



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