For nearly 39 years, Helen has been the consistent face residents have turned to whenever they want to get spruced up. She runs the Arkansas Presbyterian Manor beauty salon.
“My first shop was in the laundry room before the health care addition was built on,” said Helen. “On that first day, I had five patrons. Once I settled up that day, I started a second day, and then a third … and here I am now.”
The majority of Helen’s patrons simply request to have their hair shampooed or set with rollers, but Helen knows that the positive effects of her work—on both the residents and herself—can never truly be measured.
“It gives me great joy when they walk down the hall and just beam when someone says, ‘Oh, you look so nice,’” said Helen. “I know their hairstyles probably only last until the next time they lay down, but for at least a little while, they feel really good about themselves.”
While Helen may not have always known that she wanted to work in an assisted living community, the path she would take to become a stylist was determined when she was just 15 or 16 years old.
“When I was in the 10th grade, I had to give a speech on a possible career choice. I interviewed a local hair stylist and immediately thought, ‘I’d really like to do that,’” said Helen. “So, I graduated from high school on a Friday and then started beauty school on the following Tuesday.”
Helen’s job is not without its challenges. She struggles sometimes with patrons who forget their appointments, but she says it is all worth the incredible relationships she is able to build.
“Even those who have memory problems are so appreciative—I truly feel like they are all my friends,” she said.
Away from the beauty shop, Helen directs the bell choir at her church, plays in the bell choir at another church, participates in two card clubs, reads and even does a little catering.
“I’m just a happy person and enjoy life,” said Helen. “I really like to be around other people.”
Helen has been married to Robert “Dutch” Czaplinski for 57 years. The couple has three children, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.