United In Relief

As this issue of American Salon goes to press in early September, a scant two weeks after thousands of people in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi found themselves homeless, helpless and in desperate need of assistance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a sense of hope is finally beginning to emerge in this stricken area. While disaster relief to hurricane victims seemed maddeningly slow in those first few crucial days after the storm made landfall, the beauty industry's response was immediate, as salon professionals across the country came together in a swift outpouring of support. As the new editor in chief of this magazine, I've found it to be an amazing introduction to the power and compassion of the people in this industry.

 Mary Novitsky
Mary Novitsky

Many of us who attended Premiere Orlando breathed a collective sigh of relief when Katrina skirted Florida, unaware of the impact the storm would have on so many people. Yet within 24 hours of the disaster, beauty professionals were responding to behindthechair.com founder and CEO Mary Rector-Gable's Internet posting to open their hearts to the many salon pros who had lost everything by making a donation to the NCA's Disaster Relief Fund. Established 30 years ago to provide financial assistance to NCA members affected by natural disasters, the fund has helped countless professionals rebuild their careers, businesses and lives.

"I know what it feels like to be on the front line," says NAHA Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Sam Brocato, whose salon business, schools, friends and family are based in the New Orleans area, and who nearly lost everything to Hurricane Andrew in 1992. "Having been through it myself, I knew how bad it could be, and what it takes to get going again," he adds. Recognizing the need to expand the scope of the Disaster Relief Fund to reach as many people as possible, he turned to the NCA and other industry colleagues to form Beauty Associations for Katrina Relief, a coalition to raise $5 million for the long-term aid of salon professionals. "I thought, what a great opportunity to create a relationship between a lot of people in our industry on a common ground, motivated by this tragedy," Brocato says. "It's an unbelievable example of what an industry can do on top of social services."

Asssociations participating in the coalition with the NCA include The Professional Beauty Association, The Salon Association, The American Association of Cosmetology Schools and The International Chain Salon Association. "We can really show the world how we want to be treated as a profession by the way we're reaching out to help each other," Brocato says. "In doing so, we strengthen our entire industry."

I urge you to visit www.probeautycares.org to learn more about the coalition's efforts and how you can help. We'll continue to update you on industry relief efforts in future issues of American Salon.

—Mary Novitsky, editor in chief

E-mail Mary at [email protected]