APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Everybody’s hair is different and this Black History Month, one nonprofit organization is making sure that everybody has the products they need to keep their hair healthy.
People of Progression is an Appleton-based nonprofit that advances African American people in the community. This month they’re organizing a fundraiser asking people to donate hair-care items for all hair types that will go to area homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and group homes.
People of Progression officials have also enlisted local businesses to help them with their fundraiser. One of those businesses is Lawlss Coffee on College Avenue in Appleton. Its owner Stephan Witchell said their partnership with People of Progression began when their executive director Kristen Gondek came in for coffee and they began chatting.
“Impressed with her desire to genuinely help people especially the black community in this area,” said Witchell.
Lawlss Coffee, Basil Cafe, Trending Topic, Commodore Club, and DVSN 1 are all places where people can donate products or money to the fundraiser. The businesses will donate some of their sales to the fundraiser as well.
“It’s about community, it’s about sharing ideas and making an actual connection not just talking about things but actually doing something,” said Witchell.
Witchell said that being part of the fundraiser makes him proud and that like the purpose of the fundraiser, a major mission of his business is to bring people from all different backgrounds together.
For People of Progression executive director Kristen Gondek, the fundraiser is personal. She said she grew up not knowing how to take care for her hair and says the lack of representation in the hair-care world continued when she attended cosmetology school.
“There was no black hair care program at my school or any school in the area so when I graduated I actually didn’t pursue doing hair,” said Gondek.
People of Progression is partnering with another local business for a hair-care-related Black History month event.
Taperz Barber Shop in Appleton will host an ‘Afro Hair Fair’ on Feb. 25 at Poplar Hall where attendees will learn hair-care techniques for all different types of hair.
“It’s definitely about inclusion we want to make sure that everybody knows how to maintain all hair textures, not just the basic ones,” said Gabrielle Tolan who is a stylist at Taperz Barber Shop and an official with the People of Progression organization.
“When there isn’t people advocating for this or showing in the community that this is an issue so many of us fall through the cracks not even knowing to speak up for ourselves,” said Gondek.