As a hair stylist, Sandra DelCasale knows that outward appearances matter. But she also knows they can obscure as much as they reveal.
When the pandemic shuttered the salon where she works, DelCasale suddenly found herself in the precarious position of living off the savings and credit she had intended to put into her growing hair styling business. She also found herself mired in shame and self-doubt — feelings hidden, she said, by her outwardly normal appearance.
“People look at you and say, ‘You look fine,’ and they have no idea how you’re struggling,” she said.
It’s a reality the 65-year-old grappled with for years in the job she called “part hair stylist and part mental health assistant,” where clients returned to her salon chair as much for the uplifting conversation as the physical transformation.
Unable to provide hair cuts and colorings as the pandemic wore on, DelCasale grew worried that she would be evicted for falling behind on rent. With her savings dwindling, she placed most of her belongings in storage so that she would be ready to leave her St. Helena apartment at a moment’s notice.
People look at you and say, ‘You look fine,’ and they have no idea how you’re struggling…
That’s when she heard about the Chronicle’s Season of Sharing Fund, which works year-round to prevent homelessness and hunger in the nine-county Bay Area. The fund stepped in with a one-time grant to cover several months rent.
“She was really thankful when I told her she was approved,” said Alejandra Gloria, coordinator of Napa County’s Season of Sharing Fund, which has seen applications double this year. “She was losing hope that someone would be able to help her.”
Aided by the grant, along with the moratorium on evictions, she has been able to stay in her apartment. The pandemic, she said, has taught her a daily mantra of resilience.
“I say, ‘You’ve made it so far, you’re safe today and you’re not in this alone,’” she said.
Indeed, the hair stylist is just one of the many Wine Country workers who have seen their clientele dwindle amid recurring stay-at-home orders and another season of deadly wildfires. As the pandemic nears its first anniversary, the weddings, wine tours and tourism that once kept Napa County humming have all but disappeared — along with the service jobs they supported.
By sharing her own story, DelCasale said she hopes that others in the same precarious position feel less alone. Too often, she said, the shame surrounding joblessness clouds out commonality.
“There are a lot of people in trouble that you wouldn’t expect,” she said. “Everybody is suffering.”
Nora Mishanec is a staff writer for The San Francisco Chronicle.
Read the full article at: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Back-rent-grant-boon-for-hair-stylist-15839287.php