Nursing home beauty shop a cut above others

On most Wednesday mornings Bonnie Sambila, Patty Malneritch, Fran Beran and Marge Waldemarson are busy curling hair around rollers, setting permanents and snipping locks.

They are part of a tradition started by a small group of ladies more than three decades ago at Enumclaw Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. Each week, the volunteers turn the nursing home’s usually quiet beauty shop into a hive of activity.

“It’s a mad dash after breakfast,” activities director Hailey Ledbetter said. “It’s the highlight of the week. Everyone likes to get their hair done.”

The tiny, in-house beauty shop can squeeze in about five residents at a time. The others form a line outside the door and down the hallway waiting their turn in the spotlight.

The volunteers serve about a dozen women a week.

Waldemarson is the team’s veteran. She said she was brought in by Eda Mariotti and Marcella Weibel, who were on the ground floor of the program.

“I don’t know if it was true or not, but Eda always said this was the only nursing home in the United States where they didn’t have to pay to have their hair done,” said Waldemarson, who checked out the volunteer opportunity in November 1980 and stayed.

“I got hooked,” she said as she gently washed a head of hair.

Sambila, the only licensed beautician in the group, handles the haircuts and perms. The others wash, set and style.

Most of the women are regulars, who said they like to come down to get “beautiful.”

Ledbetter said the Wednesday regulars love to receive, and exchange, compliments all day long.

There is a need for additional volunteers, especially a licensed beautician. Currently, when they run short-handed, or Sambila cannot make it, the ladies sometimes have to cancel service. In the past, Waldemarson said, they’ve had a number of beauty school students donate their time.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Ledbetter at the nursing home at 360-825-2541. Volunteers have to go through a background check.

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