By SUE ELLEN ROSS – Staff Reporter

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2004

LAPLACE – Kat Powell understands how a visit to the beauty salon can lift the spirits. She should know, she has been a hair stylist for 42 years.

She now works her craft for patients at the Twin Oaks Nursing Home two days a week.

“Four years ago, my friend asked me if could fix her mother’s hair. Her mother was a patient here,” said Powell. “When others heard I was coming, about 18 of them lined up in the hall!”

She decided to fill the need and volunteered her services one day a week.

That was four years ago. You can still find the dedicated hair stylist in the ( 8 x 10) room that is set up like a beauty shop, located off the main lobby. She is opened two days a week to perform services for patients of Twin Oaks.

Although the experienced beautician receives a stipend from the home for supplies and other services, she has no set hours on the two days she is at the home, and doesn’t turn anyone away. “Sometimes I am here until 7 p.m.,” she said.

Many patients come to pay a social visit as Powell gives hair cuts and permanent waves, just like the neighborhood beauty shop.

Powell also volunteers her beauty craft to elderly neighbors that are not able to travel for a hair cut. “I understand how hard it is for them to get out, so I go to them,” she said.

The longevity of her career is credited to a couple that Powell worked for when she first began her trade. “They were very, very strict, about our appearance and everything else,” she said. “But I did learn discipline, which has taken me very far in life.”

Powell also assists with parties and other events at Twin Oaks Nursing Home.

The advantage the LaPlace resident receives includes feeling she has done something worthwhile. “The benefit you get from helping someone is hard to explain,” she said. “But I feel good when I leave here.”

When Powell is away from her volunteer duties, she enjoys spending time with her husband Mel and gardening.

She says, with a laugh, that she plans to continue styling hair, “until my legs give out.”

And many of those who have received her services hope that is no time soon.