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Beverley Smith, one of the owners of Unity 1 Beauty Supply and Hair Salon, stands outside the salon after a fire in New Orleans, Thursday, March 21, 2019. Two people were killed and several others were hospitalized after a stolen vehicle ran into the Unity 1 Beauty Supply and Hair Salon building at Washington Avenue and South White Street Wednesday, causing the building to burst into flames.

To Broadmoor, Unity 1 was more than a hair salon.

The building that housed Unity 1, at Washington and South White, was badly damaged March 20 when a speeding car slammed into it, starting a fire that killed the two teens in the car and a client in the second-floor salon.

To the neighborhood, Unity 1 was a place to stop for coffee and a chat with owners John and Beverly Smith. It was a place where homeless people could do odd jobs to earn a few dollars for a shelter stay.

It was a place where young stylists came to learn their trade alongside Beverly Smith, president of Beauticians Local No. 1.

Once a midsize local chain with five stores, Unity 1 had retrenched at its original location in the past few years, Smith said. “After Katrina, we struggled,” she said, and the building no longer had insurance.

Now, the community is giving back to the Smiths. A fundraiser on Monday (April 15) at Propeller, 4035 Washington Ave., will raise money to repair and restore the salon.

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a patrons’ reception. General admission starts at 6:30 p.m.

Vocalist Tara Alexander will entertain, accompanied by an all-star band including Jeffery “Jellybean” Alexander, June Yamagishi and Donald Surtain Jr. Refreshments are being provided by Sweet Legacy NOLA, New Orleans Seafood Connection, Fruit Wizard, Chef D’z Café, Price is Right Catering, Simply Sandwiches, Ann’s Gourmet Cookery and Denise’s Catering.

Although the cost to restore the building and the business is still being calculated, the family is heartened by the outpouring of support.

Immediately after the fire, local beauty supply shops Ebony and Beauty Plus gave gift cards and supplies to stylists whose tools had been lost in the fire. Other hair salons have stopped by with donations. The Bronner Bros. winter hair show, which met in New Orleans March 30, gave a donation as well.

And Propeller, the business incubator down the street, has donated the venue for the fund-raiser and found reliable architects and contractors.

“It’s so good to have relationships with your neighbors,” Smith said. “The reason we have so much love is that we have been connected with our neighbors.”

Tickets to the patron party are $250. General admission is $100. For more information, click here.


Follow Annette Sisco on Twitter, @AnnetteSisco