MIDDLETOWN — The owner of a local beauty parlor has come up with a unique way to support nurses, firefighters and other medical and emergency personnel who are constantly washing their clothes to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
Jessica Sassu of Jessica’s Color Room has been offering the free laundry service to clients and others while her shop is closed after hair salons were ruled a nonessential business by the governor.
Nurses, firefighters and police officers — mostly clients of hers — started reaching out to Sassu by email to say their hair is dry because they’re showering so much to avoid possible contamination, she said.
They also mentioned they were constantly washing their clothing. Sassu realized she could contribute to local aid efforts as a way to thank first responders for their valiant efforts.
“They’ve found themselves having to disinfect and reuse safety equipment and having to shower and change clothes several times a day just to keep themselves, their family and the public safe,” Sassu wrote in a release.
“It dawned on me I’m here anyway cleaning and selling retail that I might as well go the extra mile and do their laundry for them,” she said.
So, she’s been packaging at-home conditioning treatments as well as personal color kits tailored for her various clients, who pay by phone and pick up the products in the hallway outside the salon.
Sassu is also offering at-home color sessions and consultations via FaceTime for those who have questions or need advice. “You’ve got to be creative.”
She made the offer last week on her Facebook page, and already a dozen people, including a few firefighters, responded. Drop-offs are being done mostly by nurses, who bring in their work smocks in the morning. Sassu has them ready for pickup by evening.
Men’s Warehouse heard about the effort and dropped off about 50 garment bags. “At first, when I was doing the laundry, I was like, ‘How do I give it to them?’” Sassu had been handing them back on coat hangers.
“The response I’m getting from people to help is so nice,” Sassu said.
The staff person told her the shop was closed due to the governor’s order directing nonessential businesses to shutter until at least May 20. The color room closed March 23. Unfortunately, Sassu was forced to lay off her entire staff.
“I get a lot of salons reaching out to me asking how am I doing it, how’s it going,” Sassu said.
“We are here for you! We know how hard you’re working and we want to help! We won’t let our good clients use bad box dye!” she wrote on Facebook.
There, Sassu shared a comment from a client: “Not often is the mental health of a first responder considered by the everyday passerby. I went to buy my products from Jessica’s Color Room. During the drive over, I felt stressed, ugly and overwhelmed. I was met at the door by a welcoming face.
“I felt like an actual out-of-home human conversation was a must, because I was feeling anxious and upset. I returned home with masks and gloves and began using the product. When done, I felt beautiful, motivated and more relaxed,” the customer wrote.
Meanwhile, Sassu’s children, including her son Dylan, are helping during a massive cleaning of the shop. Tuesday morning was painting day.
“It’s been really stressful financially, but honestly, I love getting things done,” Sassu explained.
Late January, Dylan, a Middletown High School junior, received a standing ovation at the January Board of Education meeting for saving the life of a crossing guard he came upon at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. The woman had fallen face down.
She is now doing well, she told The Press.
He was also honored with a plaque and Good Samaritan Award at the February Common Council meeting.
Sassu, who also makes T-shirts for staff, created a new black-and-white design which reads, “Straight Outta Quarantine. Hairstylist 2020.”
“I made those for when we come back,” Sassu added.
For information, visit Jessica’s Color Room on Facebook. Those interested in dropping off items to be cleaned can text Sassu at 860-416-4321.