DALLAS -- After years of living on the streets this isn't exactly an experience Canel, AKA Pops, can really comprehend.
A dramatic transformation, a makeover that you see on the outside. But, internally it can affect the soul and confidence of this 70 year old.
First, some skin work. Cleansing, massaging, and moisturizing, from the face to his fingers. "Just giving back makes me feel so good, just touching somebody's hands, touching somebody's face, letting them know that you are still worthy of touch, and you are still here, and I know that it's hard right now but we're here with you" sats Amiya Cleveland, owner of Studio 21 Salon.
Next up, a stop in the barber's chair. "We wanted him to look like himself, but a polished version of himself. Shaped him up really well, trimmed down his beard. Got him looking like a million bucks. He looked fantastic" says Amiya.
But remember, he didn't look "fantastic" when he got to Studio 21 Salon in Grand Prairie.
Thanks to the help of Laterras R. Whitfield of HomeBless Life, Pops gets a moment like this.
Just like with a haircut, sometimes less is more, and for a guy like Pops sometimes one word can say it all: "Wow!"
No transformation would be complete without a change of clothes.
And you can see Pops' new look dramatically changes the way you could look at him. Earlier in the day, not many people wanted to hear what Pops was saying. But now those cold shoulders turn to warm smiles and a willingness to go above and beyond to help.
Pops says "maybe they saw me this morning when I wasn't, and saw me now and gave me a different smile."
But of course, as striking as the makeover is, it's only the beginning of Pops' journey to a HomeBless Life.
Laterras plans to get help from organizations like City Square and the Stewpot to help get Pops an ID and other vital documents, and eventually, a steady source of income.
The process is practically impossible for most folks in pops' position. It takes help they can't pay for, and often it takes a very long time.
For the moment, Pops got a good night's sleep in a comfy hotel. Then Laterras surprised him with one last makeover.
Laterras says "I saw how he was living, and it was heartbreaking. I couldn't let him continue living like that. So I bought him a new tent. It was the biggest smile i'd seen on his face since I'd known him."
When talking to Pops about the whole ordeal, Laterras says "I asked Pops, 'did you enjoy this?' he said he loved it. The way people responded to him, he felt like somebody. I made a joke, I said 'let me keep that suit, what are you gonna do with it?' he said 'no! I'm gonna keep my suit and wear it to church on Sunday!'"
After the whole experience, maybe the biggest gift for Pops was something most of us take for granted.
"Pops kept asking for burgers" says Laterras. "He said that seeing this world, our world, was amazing and that's what a burger represented to him. He just wanted another burger."
Yeah and the lesson for us? The only thing standing between the two views of Pops, is the kindness of strangers.