Fairfield County Bank, Shine Salon treat women vets to a day of beauty

Three women who’ve been through some tough experiences — military service, war, some of them, and recently homelessness — were treated to some pampering at Shine Salon in Ridgefield.

Rebecca Tindall, Linda Blackwood and Christina Clark, all veterans living in a transitional housing facility for homeless female veterans in Bridgeport — Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes, operated by Homes for the Brave — got a “day of beauty” on March 18 at Shine Salon, 392 Main Street, Ridgefield, through a collaboration of Fairfield County Bank Insurance Services, Fairfield County Bank, and Shine Salon.

“The whole salon treatment — hair wash, haircut, hand massage, have a little tea — it’s their day,” said John Czel of Fairfield County Bank Insurance Services.

Two of the women who came to Ridgefield for the afternoon at Shine Salon will be performing in War Stories, A Veterans’ Project at Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Arts on Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1, at 8 p.m. War Stories is a full-length performance that uses “courageous storytelling as an entry point” and allows men and women who have served their country to share their lives and stories in their own voices.

Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes operates the Pfc. Nicholas A. Madaras Home, where the women are living, a 15-bed transitional home for female veterans in Bridgeport’s West End.

The program is one of four run by Applied Behavioral Rehabilitation Institute Inc.’s Homes for the Brave.

“There’s about 12 to 14 women that transition in and out, they’re not permanent residents,” said Czel. “It’s a safe, clean, beautiful place for them to stay.”

In addition to Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes, ABRI Homes for the Brave operates three other programs in Bridgeport: Homes for the Brave, a 42-bed transitional facility for male veterans; Waldorf House, a nine-unit permanent supportive housing residence with case management services for formerly homeless male veterans; and the Veterans Service Center at 655 Park Avenue in Bridgeport, offering immediate basic needs assistance to homeless veterans, both male and female, as well as referrals for housing, job training, entitlements, and support services.

The Pfc. Nicholas A. Madaras Home where the women are living is named after a young soldier from Wilton who was collecting soccer balls for kids in Iraq, where he was serving, and then lost his life there. The Kick for Nick Foundation, which honors his memory, has since sent thousands of soccer balls to kids in Iraq and Afghanistan and also partnered with ARBI Homes for the Brave in creating a transitional home in Bridgeport for women veterans — the home that now bears his name.

Czel said that organizing the day of beauty at Shine Salon was one small contribution in the context of many others.

“Time to do something,” he said. “There are school kids, classes, doing meals for these folks.

“It’s not like we‘re standing out. We’re just some people among a ton of people who are doing things.”