Penny Grooms, owner and operator of Cheveux Salon, beams with pure joy when she speaks of the over twenty cancer survivors that she, as part of the “Hello Gorgeous” organization, has helped to encourage and support. She has been a local affiliate of the organization which surprises cancer patients with a wonderful day of pampering for over four years.

Grooms and a former employee went to a hair show in Alabama and saw a large flag that caught their eye. It was a “Hello Gorgeous” banner and it piqued her interest in the organization. Soon a representative of the group, Trisha Greenlee, came to Newport for Grooms and the other interested parties to train for what was to become a wonderful ministry for those battling breast as well as other forms of cancer. They have served cancer survivors not only from Newport, but also from Morristown, Sevierville, Jefferson City and White Pine.

Many fighting breast cancer lose their hair while going through treatments, and this can be devastating, particularly for a woman. When women may be having a hard time thinking they are attractive they are surprised with a day that is all about them. They are absolutely treated like a queen, and even enter the salon on a red carpet rolled out especially for the event. When they walk in the door the team welcomes them with a hearty “Hello Gorgeous”, thus the name. The recipient is gifted with flowers, chocolates, a new outfit and a total makeover.

The products that are used for their beauty makeovers are specially formulated for cancer patients by an oncologist and his rocket scientist wife, and are all natural with a honey base. Mary K donates the makeup, and numerous beauty companies donate the hair products that are used. If a wig is needed they have a ready supply available. The flowers are donated by Mark (Ramsey) and Digger (Eric Manes) and created by Wilma’s.

“We stalk the survivors’ Facebook pages for days to see what hairstyles they have as well as their style of clothes and jewelry. It really is so much fun to see them smiling and feeling good in their new outfits graciously donated by Maurice’s in Morristown. Maurice’s sends several selections for the recipient to choose from so it’s a little mini shopping trip!”

So many wonderful people come together to benefit these special ladies and go to great lengths to pull off the surprise. Grooms shared that the variety of responses has been a mixture of laughter and of tears.

She said, “One precious lady fell to her knees weeping she was so overwhelmed with the joy of the moment.”

According to Cindy Lowery who was a recipient of a her own day of beauty, “The hardest part of my cancer battle was losing my hair. I just cried and cried when it first started falling out. Finally, I decided to go ahead and shave my head when I saw it coming out by the handful. Honestly, having this program and all the wonderful people working to make me look and feel good was such a huge blessing.”

According to Lowery, “I had never had a mani-pedi before, and it was the most relaxing experience.”

Grooms finds that sometimes the ladies want to talk about their individual journey and how they are feeling about things. The one on one time spent together during their mani-pedis gives the ladies a chance to relax and talk if they choose to.

Grooms is not only responsible for coordinating all aspects for the day of beauty, but she also must schedule two fundraisers a year to take care of expenses for her ladies, and to give startup money back to the organization. They, in turn, help others who begin as new “Hello Gorgeous” affiliates.

Grooms stated, “The first three years we did yard sales. We are raffling off a quilt right now. We have made $330 so far. My aunt is 87 and enjoys helping out by making quilts.”

Grooms has engaged the community’s support in numerous fundraisers over the past your years from the previously mentioned rummage sales to golf tournaments, and now the first annual “Hello Gorgeous” beauty pageant is in the books. The latest of her fundraising efforts was held on September 12, and was enjoyed by all. The “Hello Gorgeous” organization helps to fulfill Grooms’ desire to minister to those whose lives have been touched by cancer, and help them to feel beautiful once more.

In fact, many have noted her efforts, and in February of 2019 the Buddy Check 10 team from WBIR of Knoxville showed up at Newport’s Cheveux Salon to cover her latest makeover event. The coverage was so well received that Grooms was nominated for a contest at WBIR, and she and her team came in 2nd place.

Grooms said, “This is truly a group effort and a labor of love by all of those who make “Hello Gorgeous” possible.”

Grooms and her team are ready and waiting to bless that special someone in your life.

Please visit www.hellogorgeous.org for information about submitting your loved one’s name for a day of beauty.

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