By Kaitlyn Johnson
Special to The Herald
STANWOOD — Even with the pink tablecloths and balloons, what stood out most in the common room of Josephine Caring Community was the excitement of those waiting to get their hair and nails done.
On Saturday, stylists donated their time and resources to residents, many of whom are in memory care.
The effort was organized by Ashleey Bezant-Niblett, who grew up in the Marysville area and runs a nonprofit called, “Inked Skin, Happy Hearts.”
The attention was calming and “very nice,” said resident Mary Lou Battaglia.
“It changes everything. When you get to see all these people, it makes you feel good.”
Battaglia wore a soft rinse of pink blush. “They gave me some color,” she said.
Ellen Kline was reminded of the days when she would do her daughter’s hair and makeup. She always loved getting her own hair and makeup done, she said.
“I’m 94. I’ll be 95 on my birthday,” she said. “This is special. Very special.”
Nearby, Debbie Carr was painting the nails of a woman who didn’t speak.
“We’re just going to add a little sparkle to her day,” Carr said.
She’d seen an item about the event on Facebook and offered to pitch in, because “this is just something I enjoy doing,” she said.
Another resident, Theo Norgaard, served with the U.S. Navy’s WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) during World War II. Her nails needed trimming — but clear polish only for her. “I go to the beauty parlor for my hair,” she said.
Norgaard lived most of her life in Montana but moved to Camano Island to stay with her daughter. After a fall, she needed more care and came to Josephine.
Bezant-Niblett, who led the event, has a personal connection to the home, because her grandmother, Rhoda Monroe, has been there for about five years.
Her 7-year-old daughter, Scarlett, wandered around and observed the stylists at work. The residents admired the girl’s long copper curls and sparkly black-and-pink shoes.
Hair and makeup can make people feel pretty and happy, Scarlett said, though she was disappointed she couldn’t do anyone’s nails like her mother. She asked politely, but there were no takers — except for her Nana.
Bezant-Niblett, 30, was raised by her grandparents for much of her life.
Later, she became a stepdaughter to Gerry Andal, a Stanwood-area businessman and musician who was known for his cowboy flair and community service.
“He always seemed to be doing something to give back wherever he could,” she said. “When he died, I just thought I wanted to put a drop in the bucket.”
Andal wasn’t a huge fan of her tattoos, though she’s since dedicated a half-sleeve in his memory. As a stay-at-home mother, she aims for her nonprofit to bring together tattooed folks and others in service projects.
Past examples have included hygiene packs for the homeless, trail cleanups, a charity walk for heart health and taking in (approved) animals to visit memory care patients.
Bezant-Niblett knows from caring for aging relatives that one-on-one attention “goes miles in their day,” she said. She sees that not everyone has regular visitors.
“Just a little bit of people interaction, it radiates through them,” she said. “It’s a day-at-the-parlor kind of feel. It’s really familiar to them.”
In visiting her grandmother over the years, Bezant-Niblett became close with Shannon Terpak, an activities coordinator at Josephine.
Terpak was grateful to the stylists for donating their time Saturday, saying, “I want the residents to enjoy themselves. That’s all we’re here for.”
Joan Gibson was one of many who would have said that goal was met. In the midst of it all, she was getting her hair curled by Amber Holzknecht.
Gibson had hoped for makeup, too, “but my allergies popped up and that’s the end of it,” she said.
“But you’re still pretty,” Holzknecht said.
“That’s what everyone says,” Gibson said.
Kaitlyn Johnson is a ninth-grader at Cavelero Mid High School in Lake Stevens. Herald reporter Rikki King contributed to this story.
For more information on the nonprofit, go to the “Inked Skin, Happy Hearts” page on Facebook.