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Canarsie Meets Boro Park For Makeovers and Mingling Amongst OHEL’s Adult Mental Health Individuals

By: Sharon Mikhli

On Sunday April 10th, 2016 women and men from OHEL’s Adult Mental Health program gathered for a day of pampering, and social engagement thanks in large part to Inspired by You, a wonderful volunteer organization from Canarsie.
Sarah Kahan, LCSW at OHEL and coordinator of OHEL’s Morris Pinsky Simcha Program, organized and managed social facilitation amongst the many participants.
The day kicked off with female participants treated to a morning of welcome pampering and makeovers. Volunteers from Inspired by You provided “A Day of Beauty”, offering the women manicures, hair styles, makeup applications and wardrobe advice.

Inspired by You is a newly formed non-profit organization based in Canarsie headed by Christine DeSilva and Natasha Havens. It was created by a team of women who specialize in fields such as cosmetology, wardrobe styling, event planning, and culinary arts and graciously offer free makeovers to those with disabilities or simply, “down and out”, in need of a self confidence boost, emotionally and physically.
They seek to inspire women not just with outer beauty, but also inner beauty, having “Empowering” sessions after the makeovers, where they discuss life aspirations and exchange advice.
Together with OHEL staff, Elaine Schickman, an OHEL board member, also volunteered, styling hair and providing makeovers, and enjoyed spending time with OHEL individuals – many of whom she knew from spending time at the OHEL Bushkill Summer Retreat.

Additionally, participants received hands-on wardrobe styling, and chose outfits and accessories to complement their new look. Rosie, one of the OHEL individuals conveyed that “I feel so beautiful!” while Leba added “Wow, this is great; just a little bit of makeup and I feel so good!”

Makeovers and such pampering are especially beneficial to such women challenged by mental illness, from bi-polar disorders to depression. As these women work to effectively manage their disorder and rightfully focus on medication and emotional and psychiatric support provided by OHEL, there can sometimes be a lacking of focus on externals such as appearance, deportment – external wellbeing.
After the morning of pampering, the many male participants arrived and Sarah Kahan, LCSW and event facilitator, along with co-facilitator Howard Hirt, conducted networking and social mixing. Together with a light dinner served, there was much accompanied talking and mingling. A number of practical dating questions were raised and discussed such as: “Where do you go on a first date?” “How do you move from casual dating to serious dating?” “How do you ask someone out for a date?” “How do know this person is the right one?” “How can I trust him/her?” “When do I introduce him/her to family?” etc. These were all relevant and important dating issues to participants, and they welcomed the interesting discussion by all.

The underlying rationale behind OHEL’s Morris Pinsky Simcha Program is the belief that all individuals seek to care for and love another – and that individuals challenged by disability are no different. The program provides socializing and dating skills as well as dating introductions. In fact there have been numerous marriages that have resulted from the program!
The Inspired by You event enthused the participants, giving them a greater self-confidence to move forward with building healthy relationships through improved self-esteem. OHEL graciously thanks Inspired by You for their incredible efforts - a team of dedicated, warm and friendly volunteers that OHEL individuals immediately warmed to.
The day came to a reluctant close with OHEL staff, volunteers and residents sharing toasts and words of inspiration, with the hope to do such an event sooner than later in the future! Women left with goodie bags filled with cosmetics and self-care products provided by OHEL and Inspired by You.

Christine DeSilva, founder of Inspired by You commented “What a great day! My volunteers were so happy to give of themselves and spend the day with OHEL individuals. They are all truly beautiful people, inside and out!”

Individuals interested in the Simchah program should please contact Sarah Kahan, LCSW OHEL at 1-800-603-OHEL (6435).

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