Walking the red carpet

LYNNWOOD — Diana Zimmerman dabbed her eyes with a tissue Monday morning, worried that tears would ruin the freshly applied makeup.

The tears stopped the moment Zimmerman glanced at her friend, Madeline Haley.

The women smiled almost in disbelief as they looked at each other’s picture-perfect faces.

Transformations were taking place all over the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Lynnwood on Monday as part of Queen, It’s a New Day.

The annual two-day event includes pampering and workshops for women who are homeless, battered or battling addictions — women who are not used to feeling beautiful.

“Today is about showing them their worth through the love of the community,” said Judy Hoff, the founder of the nonprofit organization that puts on the event.

A former pastor and counselor, Hoff started Queen to help women turn their lives around. A physical makeover goes a long way to start a psychological transition, she said.

About 110 women got makeovers Monday with the help of more than 200 volunteers. In the evening, limos whisked them to the Lynnwood Convention Center in their new cocktail dresses for a gala dinner and ceremony.

On Tuesday, participants will be busy with workshops focusing on building confidence, setting goals and developing careers.

Hoff hopes Queen will become a national phenomenon. Groups from around Western Washington and other states have asked her to help start local events.

“It really does change lives,” she said.

Laurie Young, 54, of Everett, is living proof of that. After being a queen in 2006, she went back to college and now works for the organization.

“I didn’t even want to come. But when I got off the bus, there was the red carpet, and there were the 200 people applauding me, and it took my breath away,” she said.

With the dinner and ceremony still hours away, Zimmerman, 50, and Haley, 48, each got a massage. They are roommates at a transitional housing program in Everett. Zimmerman said she is moving out soon because she found a job in the restaurant industry.

Zimmerman volunteered in the Queen closet, sorting through hundreds of gowns and work clothes donated for the event.

Jennifer Harrington, 35, of Mukilteo, ushered Zimmerman and Haley to the next conference room to pick out clothes. She was one of the volunteers acting as a queen assistant throughout the day.

She came to help because she understands what some of the queens have been through. She waved her hand in front of her face, trying not to cry.

“These women are where I was,” she said. “And they get this opportunity to have someone say, ‘You are worth it. You are beautiful. Believe it.'”

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452, kyefimova@heraldnet.com.

On the Web

To learn more about Queen, It’s a New Day, go to http://queenitsanewday.com.

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