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When part-time stylist Deborah Wright Peters’ stepson, Jake, was diagnosed with a severe and debilitating illness, her Sola community stepped in, raising some serious cash for Jake’s long-term care and treatment. 

Deborah remarried four years ago, and it was a little bit like “The Brady Bunch” — both she and her husband brought three kids into the new relationship. They were busy navigating this unfamiliar dynamic when Jake – Deborah’s youngest stepson – began showing symptoms of a very rare condition called Neuromyelitis Optica, or Devic’s disease. During his junior year of high school, Jake went from being a healthy student athlete to a quadriplegic — practically overnight. 

Deborah lives in Los Angeles, and had been remotely running DKW Salon in Morgan Hill since 2000, where she employed several stylists, including long-time friend Rebeca Alvarez, owner of Rebeca Hair Couture.

“When this happened to her son, Deborah ended up closing down the business she had started,” explains Rebeca. “She was tired,” Rebeca says, adding, “She felt like she couldn’t do it anymore.”

Deborah, Rebeca, Melissa Schipper, Alicia Juarez and Sherry Marinovich had been working together at DKW for over a decade — they’d formed close bonds, and their clients were tight-knit, too! “We didn’t want to separate and go our own ways; we felt like we needed to support each other more than ever,” says Rebeca.  

Around the time DKW Salon shut its doors, Sola Salons Morgan Hill was gearing up to open, and Rebeca decided to scope it out. “I came back to the girls with a plan,” she says, explaining, “We’d stay together at Sola, each having our own studio.”

That plan, it turned out, was just crazy enough to work. The DKW stylists signed their leases together, and have since added a few more sisters to their “Sola sorority,” as Rebeca calls it.

The stylists at Sola Salons Morgan Hill definitely exemplify sisterhood when Rebeca stepps up to organize a cut-a-thon to raise money for her friend. 

In November of 2015, Rebeca began rallying fellow Sola stylists, asking if anyone would be willing to donate their time and talent for a day. When she started sharing the plan with clients, too, Rebeca says, “It snowballed, and became a little larger than what I was expecting.”

Everybody at Sola Salons Morgan Hill was excited to participate, and the site’s building managers also got involved, offering up cash for start-up costs. It was this sense communal energy and encouragement that elevated Rebeca’s original plan into an all-day event with one heck of a payoff.

On Sunday, February 21, many of the owners at Sola Salons Morgan Hill opened their doors from 10 am to 5 pm; stylists charged $30 per cut or blow out, and an esthetician did henna tattoos.

“Just about all of the Sola stylists participated,” says Rebeca, noting that makeup artists and estheticians who couldn’t offer services came out to help with operational details.

Rebeca brought on a DJ to spin during the event, and it was her clients who suggested – and supplied – a bake sale. For a raffle, local proprietors – along with clients – donated a whopping forty items, including gift cards, goods — even flower arrangements. The raffle alone brought in $2,500! There was also a taco truck slanging delicious street food throughout the busy, bustling day. 

One of Sola’s building managers, the multi-talented John Paredes, entertained guests with magic tricks. “Down the hall you’d see little clusters of people surrounding him,” Rebeca recalls.   

Over a hundred customers had their hair styled at the event, and dozens of guests opted for tattoos and makeup application. All together, participating stylists raised $8,700 in a single day — plus another $1,300 before and after the cut-a-thon, the latter in the form of cash and check donations. One hundred percent of all donations and proceeds went directly to Jake and his family. 

“It’s for more rehabilitation,” Rebeca explains. Jake is home now, and in the process of ascertaining his next steps. “At eighteen, he still has a huge future, and he needs to learn how to live as a quadriplegic,” says Rebeca. Physical and psychological therapies are expensive — and the latter isn’t necessarily covered by insurance. “So this money raised will go toward that future rehab,” says Rebeca.

Ten thousand helps, but there’s more work to be done. If you’re feeling moved, consider making a donation to Jake’s Go Fund Me campaign.

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