President/Founder Brittney Webster, and Vice President Alonzo Mckenzie
It’s hard not to be inspired when you see someone fulfill their passion through helping others. I got a double dose of inspiration upon arriving at Pittsburgh’s New Hazlett Theater for The Make-Up Bar’s event: “Giving Back in a Glamorous Way.” It was an event that provided refreshments, nourishment, make up tutorials, spa treatments, clothing and jewelry vendors and a fashion show. What was more impressive was that this looked like an event for the stars – but the event’s purpose was to give back to victims of Domestic Abuse.
According to the Hope Alliance, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Domestic abuse carries a stigma of shame. There is shame for the abused in how they are being treated, not wanting loved ones to know or concerns for escalated violence towards children or the abused themselves if red flags are waved to try and seek help. There is also the matter of others who look away and think “well they got themselves into that situation, I am not getting involved.” Some may take this stance for fears that they will put themselves endanger for stepping in, and others may just prefer to stay oblivious. Regardless of the situation, after being at The Make-Up Bar event I came away realizing that there really isn’t enough education and dialogue about domestic abuse.
Brittany Webster is the founder of The Make-Up Bar. The organization is in the process of obtaining their 501C to be recognized as an accredited non-profit organization. Before I spoke to Brittany, I quickly realized two things: one, even though she is petite, I recognized she was the boss. She was the conductor – telling everyone where to go, what to do with this and that before the doors opened and she commanded attention. The second note was that she was not just facilitating for the purpose of coordinating an event – there was an energy that read passion for a cause. She wanted the event to be perfect, not for bragging rights, but for something deeper. When I asked her why she founded The Make-Up Bar she stated her mission was two-fold: Allow women to feel pampered and truly walk away owning their beauty and to help victims of domestic violence. Brittany had a relative that was killed in front of her children by her husband. After he killed his wife – he killed himself. It was a very tragic and sobering recollection that opened my eyes a little wider to the abuse and violence that so many endure. But then I took a step back and saw what was before me: a young girl who took a heinous event and used it to create an organization that gives back to victims of domestic abuse. She is the definition of a hustler – and all for the purpose of donating back time and money to those in need. Brittany held her first event in 2009 where 100 people were in attendance: “I did it all by word of mouth, social media – but now, today, at this event we are expecting over 400 people.” It is a testament of her dedication that attendance has doubled and an event that looked more like a VIP after-party to an award show had true purpose. Many of the vendors I spoke to corralled behind The Make-Up Bar’s mission as they were compelled to help, especially when there seemed to be few resources for victims of domestic abuse. Other participants in the event I spoke to voiced they had someone in their life who was a victim of domestic abuse, and they wanted to help be a part of a cause that meant something more than just glitz and glamour.
The second cog in The Make-Up Bar’s machine is Alonzo McKenzie. An energetic and grounded young man who wanted to be a part of Brittany’s organization, “I wanted to show that men can [and should] stand behind Domestic Violence awareness and education. I wanted to be a strong male role model to speak to young men about how to conduct themselves, and also be there for men who are victims of domestic violence.” Alonzo explained that they continually reach out to the community – with a strong focus on speaking to children. They had a pizza and ice cream social recently at the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh – and that they want to eventually do a mini make up event for little kids. One of the most important pieces I took away from the day was that it is important for more people to talk about this crisis that affects so many people. Alonzo shared with me that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. I had no idea, but I am now truly thankful that I am more informed and able to spread the word. Be sure to keep an eye out for future Make-Up Bar events and support their cause, as it is more than worthy. (To see more pictures from this event check out our Facebook page - Photos taken by Chancelor Humphrey)
**If you are someone you know are a victim of domestic abuse and need help – there are resources**
Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh 24-Hour Hotline: 412-687-8005 or toll free at 877-338-TALK. (8255).
Legal Advocacy (412) 355-7400
Medical Advocacy (412) 232-7479