WALKER — Volunteers gave back to the community as they pampered fathers Saturday during the annual Father’s Day Makeover at Walker United Methodist Church.
Stan Lee, of Walker, said he was reluctant at first about letting somebody work on his toenails.
“I wasn’t going to do this and my wife talked me into it,” the 80 year old said. “Sometimes my old feet would hurt and get pretty sore, it’s hard to care for them like I used to do. Sue (Hilliard) worked on my feet so thoroughly and made them feel so scrubbed, much healthier and good.
“This is the second time in my whole life I’ve done something like this.”
Stylists and volunteers, such as Hilliard, who has organized the event on the Saturday before Father’s Day for three years, provided free haircuts and pedicures to the fathers. The event has become a popular treat for fathers in the community.
This year, Marsha Barbari, of Marsha’s Salon, a full service hair salon in Baton Rouge, returned once again to help style the dads. She has been involved with the project for over two years, she said. Her two grandsons Aidan Wadell, 10, and Cole Wadell, 7, and nephew Paul Loup, 10, all of Baton Rouge, were on hand to assist the men by serving snacks.
“I really loved helping out and making these very nice people in our community look and feel better,” Barbari said. “Many of these guys have given so much to our community, working hard all their lives, sacrificing for their families and many serving our country in uniforms and during wars.”
“They were hesitant to come at first, but I can tell they really liked and enjoyed what we were gifting to them,” Barbari said. “I feel very emotional when I see their appreciation.”
Gary McClure, 78, who retired after working for 30 years at Angola and as a former employee with the Walker Police Department, came to the event on his own. “I saw this in the paper and just decided I needed a haircut so why not go to the church. I couldn’t believe how nice everyone has been here,” he said. “I think it is a really great thing the ladies are doing.”
Although McClure wasn’t interested in getting his feet pampered, he was impressed with the amount of home cooked, fresh baked snacks laid out for the fathers to enjoy while receiving their services.
The tables were filled with deviled eggs, casseroles, brownies, cookies, doughnuts and chips and dip. “We wanted to give our guests a full and enjoyable experience,” Hilliard said. “There was nothing left to pack away, so everyone must have liked our cooking.”
Vietnam veteran and truck driver Derral Walker said he was surprised how much he enjoyed this Father’s Day treat.
As Hilliard washed and scrubbed Walker’s feet, he said, “she makes me think of the extremely kind, caring gesture of Mary Magdalene (washing Jesus’ feet). Most of us should incorporate such kindnesses and be more loving and giving gestures to others in our daily lives.”
The 69-year-old father of three and grandfather of five, of Walker, had been severely injured in Vietnam and was almost killed in a truck accident 30 years ago.
Walker honored and gave credit to the words and encouragement of his own father to carry on.
“He entertained the group while receiving his hair cut and pedicure with amusing — and often extremely wise — musings about this own father,” Barbari said. “Everyone would stop briefly and listen to little bits of his old- and time-tested logic and common sense sayings.”
Saturday’s event was the last Father’s Day Makeover event that will be held at the Walker United Methodist Church. Hilliard’s son, Pastor Jeff, will be moving to another congregation and his final service in Walker will be on Sunday.
“We had a lot of fun and the nice people we’ve met doing both the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day events these three years made us feel closer to God,” Hilliard said. “All of our volunteers have been fantastic. I am so thankful for this experience. I’m wondering what will my next challenge be.”