Making a Difference: Sister Bonnie Steinlage provides salon services in OTR as a balm for souls

CINCINNATI - Our weekly feature shines the spotlight on those unsung heroes among us: people who do good things for others every day, whether as a volunteer or as part of their job. Read on to find out how you can tell us about someone you know who’s making a difference!

Who: Sister Bonnie Steinlage
What she does: Provides hair care for those in need
Where she does it: Over-the-Rhine

Franciscan Sister of the Poor Bonnie Steinlage has been providing free hair care for those in need for 25 years.

The idea to offer the service came to her when she heard a Bible passage from the book of Matthew. The verses, which instruct people to wash their faces and comb their hair when fasting, resonated with her.

Steinlage got permission from her order and enrolled in cosmetology school. In 1988, she opened her Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart salon in Over-the-Rhine, with the goal of helping people “look good and feel good about their appearance.”

Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart offers hair cuts, perms and relaxers are to low income and no income men, women and children, Steinlage said. Services also are provided for those who are elderly, disabled or homeless.

In addition to providing hair care in Over-the-Rhine, salon representatives partner with schools and social service centers to offer a Hair Care Voucher Program. People with little or no income can get gift certificates to use at one of more than 20 salons around Greater Cincinnati.

Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart reimburses the partner salons for hair cuts, perms and relaxers.

“I see it as a very basic need. There’s no place for these people to go on a regular basis to get a perm, relaxer or hair cut. For me, as well as the other volunteer stylists, it’s motivating to see such a drastic difference in their appearance,” Steinlage said.

How you can make a difference

Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart welcomes licensed cosmetologists who wish to volunteer their services. Volunteers also are needed for data input and cleaning the salon. Those who would like to offer assistance can get involved by contacting Steinlage.

Financial contributions also are welcome. Mail them to:

Franciscan Haircuts for the Poor
1800 Logan St.
Suite 200
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Connect with Sister Bonnie Steinlage:

Service agencies that partner with Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart include:

  • Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health
  • St. Joseph Catholic Worker House
  • Mary Magdalen House
  • Dress for Success
  • Drop Inn Center

RELATED INTERACTIVE: Fighting the "War On Poverty" in the Tri-State

Connect with WCPO Contributor Roxanna Swift on Twitter:  @r0xiehart .

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