Four years ago, an innocent conversation about haircuts set the ground work for a new tradition. The idea sprouted from a conversation between Sarah Jane Maher (07-09) and Marilyn Paquette (99-01) at the 2008 Midyear Retreat. Sarah Jane was thinking about cutting off a significant amount of hair and Marilyn encouraged her to donate it. A fellow LV overheard and quickly committed to doing the same. Before long, this simple idea became a quest that the 2008-2009 Cohort decided to take on in addition to their year of service. In the months between Midyear and Debriefing, this group would walk together to grow out, have cut and donate their hair in support of Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program.
“Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society, the largest nonprofit health organization committed to saving lives from every cancer, in every community, and improving the quality of life for people facing the disease …. Because real-hair wigs are expensive, and many women with cancer can’t afford them, demand for these wigs is high.”
That first year, 13 LVs donated their hair. 7 followed their lead as the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 Cohorts continued the tradition during their Debriefing Retreats. And this year, with Sarah Jane in the wings, 8 members of the 2011-2012 Cohort plus the Director of the Lasallian Volunteers did the same. “I had no idea something like that would continue on, it was really nice to see such a simple act continue, it began as just something we all thought would be cool to do,” Sarah Jane said after greeting this year’s group after their haircuts.
In addition to the precedence set by the tradition, this year’s Cohort led by 2nd year Catherine Calogero had another reason to give. LV Kristen Brenner joined the Lasallian Volunteers in August and took a leave of absence to care for her mother part way through the year when the family found out that Mrs. Brenner was no longer in remission. While Kristen was home, caring for her family and herself, her LV family lifted the Brenners up in prayer often and reached out to show support to Kristen whenever they could. Kristen was able to join the group for the Midyear Retreat in January one month before returning to her ministry to complete the year of service.
LV Chris Hueg shared, “After the Midyear Retreat, the Brenner family invited us over for dinner and through the breaking of bread with Kristen’s family, I was inspired by how high spirited Kristen’s mom was…While Kristen was home, I’d call and speak with her and get to speak with her mom as well. After we donated our hair, I talked to Kristen’s mom on the phone again and I shared what we did with her. It’s comforting to know there’s another mother figure here in NY that I can know and share in community with. Our community is actually planning to visit again to spend more time together.”
Practicing a ministry of presence toward and for one another while serving at our ministries has had a profound impact on each member of the cohort. This presence was magnified as the group of nine, ready to donate their hair, gathered in prayer before stepping into the salon. And, it was magnified once more when the group returned to the retreat with a little less hair, only to be greeted by the entire 2011-2012 Cohort with their support.
To learn more about Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program, visit http://www.pantene.com/en-US/beautiful-lengths-cause/pages/about-beautiful-lengths.aspx.