Speed Reads

lifting spirits

These volunteers bring the gift of glam to hospital patients

Jackelyn Kastanis is turning hospital rooms into beauty salons and spas, giving patients the chance to feel glamorous whenever they want.

Kastanis got the idea to launch her nonprofit Simply from the Heart after her childhood best friend Brooke was diagnosed with cancer at 27 and told she had a year to live. She spent as much time as she could with Brooke, and quickly realized the hospital was "a very stale environment." To boost her friend's spirits and give her a sense of normalcy, Kastanis bought makeup and hair extensions, and the pair spent hours a day playing with eyeshadow and lipstick.

"She, believe it or not, started taking less morphine, and it changed her entire persona," Kastanis told CBS News. Brooke died in 2011, and knowing how much her friend enjoyed doing her makeup in the hospital, Kastanis was motivated to launch Simply from the Heart. There are now chapters across the United States, with volunteers — called "glam girls" — filling "glam boxes" with 30 different beauty products. The glam girls distribute the boxes to hospital patients and then get to work pampering them, giving hand massages, painting nails, and applying makeup. 

Since 2014, more than 5,000 patients have received glam boxes. "It gives them the distraction that they need," Kastanis said. "I feel that [Brooke] was identified by her illness, and that was what killed me the most." She wants patients who receive glam boxes to have "an experience that felt like Christmas morning, or a birthday, or something just so magical," and patients have told her the boxes have helped them heal. "We have our doctors and they keep us alive," Kastanis told CBS News. "But emotionally, we all want our souls to feel sparked up to get us through."