About 100 women were queens for a day Thursday.
The women, all clients of the YWCA, got their hair cut, colored and coiffed, picked out new outfits, and were treated to dinner as part of the YWCA event “Let Your Crown Shine” at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino.
“Oh, God, it’s a blast,” said Mary Borden, who is in the Y’s domestic violence program. “Just getting pampered, it’s really nice.”
It looked like a room full of models prepping for a runway fashion show, but many of the women are battling hardships such as single parenthood, poverty, abuse and homelessness.
“Every woman goes through tough times,” said YWCA Executive Director Trish McFarland. “We wanted to tell them how special they are and how important to us they are.”
The day of pampering was supposed to be followed up with “A Conversation with the Queen,” an appearance by Queen Latifah and fundraiser for the YWCA, but Latifah had to cancel on short notice because her mother is “gravely ill,” said Tyler Tullis, account manager and marketing specialist with Desautel Hege Communications, which helped promote the event.
However, McFarland said, “We didn’t want to cancel this part of the day.”
“They’ve been very excited about this,” she said. “It’s too special.”
Borden, a single mother of 8-month-old twins, said she was looking forward to Queen Latifah’s appearance but had a great day despite the cancellation.
“It’s unfortunate that Queen Latifah canceled, but we’ve made the best of it,” she said. “It’s great to see so many different women from so many different walks of life sharing this day together.”
Her favorite part of the day, besides socializing and bonding with other women: “I think the hair and the makeup.”
“(As) a single mom with twins, I usually wear my hair in a bun,” she said. “I’ve got to wait until they’re asleep and sneak into the bathroom with a baby monitor.”
Participants also got chocolates and diamond and pearl earrings, donated by a local jeweler.
But the ladies weren’t all dressed up with nowhere to go. Unbeknownst to them, organizers lined up an appearance for Thursday evening by Ali Vincent, winner of “The Biggest Loser” Season 5.
“That will be inspirational, too, so we’re really excited about that,” McFarland said before Vincent’s appearance.
YWCA board member Judy Cole said she wanted the YWCA clients to hear Queen Latifah’s message because her values – empowering women and family – are in line with those of the YWCA. But, she said, she understands family comes first.
“It doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to celebrate,” she said. “We decided the second we heard, we’ll still do this. There’s no reason not to do this. It’s all about serving the women of the YWCA.”
Despite the unexpected cancellation by Queen Latifah, the volunteers, YWCA board members, sponsors and donors all pulled together to make the event a success, Cole said.
“An idea is only an idea until an entire community rallies behind the idea and makes it happen,” she said. “And that’s exactly what happened here.”