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Nonprofit helps with Black hair care needs for homeless Louisvillians

LeAndra Williams, Coalition for the Homeless

For Black residents who are homeless, self-care, including hair styling and upkeep, can be a challenge without the proper tools and products. 

That's why a Louisville nonprofit recently launched an effort to collect and give out products for Black hair care. In Jefferson County, nearly half of residents experiencing homelessness are Black, according to an annual survey carried out at the start of this year. 

LeAndra Williams, a prevention and diversion coordinator with the Coalition for the Homeless, said she noticed a shortage of personal care products that met Black clients’ needs and wanted to do something about it.

“My clients, their kids didn't have as much confidence because they didn't look their best. And then our parents weren't going to look for jobs because they didn't look their best,” Williams said. 

She said the Coalition plans to keep the collection effort going long-term, and aims to gather and distribute items including:

  • Hair picks
  • Curl-hydrating and conditioning creams, sprays and oils — including Blue Magic products
  • Bonnets
  • Hair clips and ties
  • Braiding hair extensions

The typical personal care packages handed out to people experiencing homelessness don’t include products for curly hair.

Over the last month, the Black Hair Care Drive has amassed about 1,000 products. But Williams said that’s just the start.

“Even though we’ve gotten all those donations, it hasn't even put a dent into the needs of the community,” Williams said. “It's important to look and feel your best because you can't expect to show up in the world and be of service to anyone if you're not in service to yourself first. ”

The Coalition is distributing products through some shelters across the city, including Volunteers of America and the Salvation Army. Williams said residents living on the street can also pick up products at 1300 S. 14th Street.