In 2000, when Rachel Doyle was only 17, she visited her local senior home with two friends. The point of their visit was to give makeovers and manicures to the elderly women living there. For Rachel, her motivation was to honor her grandmother. That life changing visit was the foundation of what became her first chapter of GlamourGals, the “give and get back” nonprofit that Rachel, a high school junior at the time, founded to inspire a movement of compassionate teen volunteers who could bring dignity, mutual respect and companionship to aging women.
The problem of elderly loneliness is real. Over 50% of seniors residing in senior homes do not have any close relatives to visit them. 70% of residents in senior homes are women. [Source: National Center For Health Statistics, via GlamourGals video]. These are deeply sad and eye opening statistics that leave us to wonder why our aging citizens can often be forgotten.
That’s where Rachel and her team of GlamourGals come in. Each Chapter of the organization schedules regular visits for their teen volunteers to local nursing homes and senior centers throughout the United States. The young women, who are both high school and college age, provide complimentary beauty makeovers and ongoing companionship to the elderly women living there. With care and compassion, they reach out, apply makeup, talk and listen. Most importantly, the young women let their elders know that they are worthy of their time.
We would imagine that at the end of their visit the volunteers leave feeling as good as the women they’ve spent time with. That’s the “give and get back” part that we love about the movement Rachel started and volunteering, in general. Reaching out to someone in need can have a truly profound effect on your heart, mind and soul.
As Rachel explains, “Volunteering with the elderly is not always easy – many women that our teen volunteers spend time with are hooked up to oxygen tanks, are wheelchair-bound or have lost their ability to hear or speak. Our volunteers become the voices for these women, writing about their experiences in GG journals, school essays or even college applications.” She adds, “Each time I visit a local makeover and I feel the squeeze of a women’s frail hand after I say, ‘you look beautiful today’, I know how special this program is.”
In the last twelve years since its inception, Rachel has grown GlamourGals to include 67 Chapters across the United States that engage over 1,300 teen volunteers to serve more than 2,000 senior women in 13 States. The most impressive thing about this is that Rachel managed and continued to build GlamourGals while she was still in high school and then throughout college. She took over as the full-time president in 2008. Today, she is CEO.
Giving a boost to someone’s spirit, making them feel special and doing something that puts a smile on their face, are some of the greatest, yet simplest gifts we can give to each other, especially to our seniors. We commend Rachel for founding and running an organization that inspires this kind of compassion and basic human kindness. She is a Woman You Should Know because she is making a big difference in the lives of women young and old.