Using makeup and nail polish, hundreds of Queens teens are bridging the gap between two generations.
Nearly 185 high school students in the borough have joined in a nonprofit’s cause to provide friendship and free makeovers to women living in senior homes.
The after-school leadership program, GlamourGals Foundation, Inc., has spread to 83 chapters in the country, including seven high schools in Queens.
“We’re bringing together two fragile populations,” said Kavita Mehra, vice president of GlamourGals. “Our volunteers come back to us and constantly share what they’ve learned from the seniors and their experiences.
We’re building compassionate, young leaders who are making a positive difference in their community.”
The teens visit local nursing homes and senior centers at least once a month for community service credit, Mehra said. They give hand massages, file down and paint nails, and apply foundation, blush and lipstick using clean, hypoallergenic materials supplied by the organization.
“What young woman doesn’t love nail polish and what older woman doesn’t love to be pampered? It’s a great way to start a conversation,” Mehra said. “It’s something about the human touch that can break immediate barriers.”
Eghosa Asemota, 19, a former Queens chapter president, said the program transformed her life after a traumatic car accident left a scar on her face.
“Before I joined GlamourGals, I was a quiet girl. I walked with my head down,” said the Ozone Park resident. “The more I visited nursing homes, the bolder I got. I was able to build that confidence again.”
Asemota, now a sophomore at Adelphi University, led the chapter at Thomas A. Edison High School, which boasts nearly 100 volunteers, in her senior year. The seniors, she said, became her own family.
“My grandparents live in Nigeria. I don’t necessarily get to speak with them a lot. Having these elderly women filled the void of a special grandmother,” she said. “I was able to give them a purpose, and they gave me a purpose.”
GlamourGals was established 13 years ago. Since then, its programs have spread to the Academy of American Studies, Thomas A. Edison, Townsend Harris, Robert F. Kennedy, Forest Hills, Flushing, and Cardozo high schools in Queens.
The organization also awards a select group of volunteers yearly with $1,000 scholarships and paid fellowships.
“We help them develop their fullest potential, and for the elderly, we demonstrate that they are not forgotten,” Mehra said.