CJ ArabiaI'm sitting in the middle of Sterling Salon in Studio City, Calif., and it's a madhouse. Owner Todd and his partner Beth have put today aside to help ladies from the Domestic Abuse Center in nearby Northridge. They're getting cuts, dyes, highlights, shampoos and blow-outs ... whatever a woman needs outside of therapy and a cocktail to feel her best.

The Domestic Abuse Center is a collection of mental-health professionals who anticipate and provide for the long-term needs of women affected by domestic violence. It's also staffed by women who have achieved success in the program, who are on hand to offer their wisdom, hope and strength to others.

The women taking part in today's event are from all different ages, backgrounds and education levels. Some are new to the group, and some have been around. Sadly, in addition to the usual camaraderie of women in a hair salon, these women are also bound by their shared past.

Click here
to keep reading ...

I sat in the lobby next to Linda, who was new. She told me that she and 15 other women meet for "group" every Wednesday night. "We talk about everything ... our kids, what's going on in our lives," she says, smiling. "But the counselor always directs us back to D.V. [domestic violence]."

The last time Linda could afford to have her hair done was with part of her tax return, and she said really could use this cut to help with job interviews, appointments and court appearances.

After Linda joined the program following an abusive relationship, the welfare offices ran a career test to gauge what Linda's career should be. According to the assessment, she belongs in an accounting office. Telling me about the test, Linda rolls her eyes. So for now, she's taking classes during the day, caring for her kids at night, going to therapy and D.V. group meetings, and trying to figure out which career path to take. But today, she's getting her hair done.

Giving Back by Giving Bobs

Todd Sterling is running around like a maniac, layering like the wind. His awesome staff members are dying, chopping, clipping, highlighting. Sterling is a very hip salon, and infectiously fun. They're passionate about people and hair, and today they're using their passion to help 40 women from the Domestic Abuse Center to look and feel their best.

It's really awesome in these economic times to see the community coming together to help one another out. It's important that people know how simple it is to give back to your community. I know times are hard, and I know we could all use a little more money, but each of us has some kind of skill that can help other people who are in need. Who knows, you may even get a little something back in return.

On her way out the door, Linda, with tears in her eyes, thanked Todd (who was stuffing a piece of pizza down his throat. No lunch break today!) He stopped to give her a big ol' greasy pepperoni hug goodbye. I sat down in the lobby to work on this post, and a teenage girl sitting next to me smiled and said, "It feels like a party in here."

It really did.

To Do: See if Todd Sterling has any tips for me and my readers that could help us look and feel our best, inside and out.

If you or anyone you know has suffered from domestic violence please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.