I had the privilege of attending the 2011 USO Gala last week in Washington, DC. The Gala was a fantastic event, but something that happened before the Gala left me beaming with pride, and filled with gratitude. The USO chose one Hero from each branch of the Armed Forces to honor, and they teamed with Procter & Gamble (P&G) to treat the honorees and their families to complimentary pre-Gala makeovers in a relaxing lounge stocked with food and filled with hair and make-up artists who volunteered their time and talent.
Alex is a hair stylist who works in the fashion industry in New York City. He traveled to Washington, DC specifically for this event. Alex didn't get to serve in the militry but says he's happy to honor those who did.
Everyone I've worked with has been good natured and sweet and all had great stories to share.Below, Alex works on Jill Graham, the proud sister of EOD1 Chad R. Regelin, the USO's Sailor of the Year. Chad is currently deployed to Afghanistan and couldn't be at the Gala, but his mom, dad, brother and sister were on hand to celebrate the honor.
Melissa Schwartz is a DC-based make-up artist who was eager to help out.
Anything I can do to give back to these families and soliders who help us rest easy at night is an honor.Melissa did make-up for wives, mothers and mother-in-laws of honorees. She was struck by the pride each of them had in their service member.
This year, P&G added a "Shave Station" where male honorees and their families were able to take advantage of hot towel shaves, head shaves and beard trims. Colleen manned the Shave Station and took the day off from her paid job to participate.
Any day you can meet service members is a good day. They have great stories and they're great people.
I talked with Proctor & Gable team members Judi Kletz (Associate Director, External Relations) and Beth Curlis (Design Manager) about P&G's involvement in the USO Gala. This is the second year in a row that P&G has sponsored a Pamper Lounge. According to Judi, P&G "[W]anted to give back to the honorees and their families and this was one small way we could do something big for them." Judi went on to tell me that P&G has worked with the USO on other projects and says P&G's core values of touching and improving the lives of individuals are aligned with the USO's mission of lifting the spirits of service members and their families.
Judi said that the artists and their subjects forge a strong emotional bond. So strong, in fact, that all artists who participated last year returned this year. Not only do P&G and their artists feel honored to work with military families, they are all affected by the humble nature and polite demeanor of those they work with. A great testament to the character of military families.
They are honored to meet these individuals and hear their stories. It's very emotional for them. With these military families, there is no expectation of this [special] treatment, they have no sense of entitlement. It's very emotional.Beth Curlis selects the talent and is responsible for designing the sets.
The sets speak to individuals and these [sets] are for honorable individuals. This is the most rewarding thing I've ever done in my career.As I said at the top, this experience left me filled with pride and gratitude. Pride in my military family, who always seem to leave such a favorable impression on the civilians they come in contact with. Gratitude for organizations like the USO and corporations like P&G who go the extra mile to do special things for military families.
My thanks to the USO and P&G for giving me access to the Pamper Lounge, the artists and the honorees and their families.