It was more than a haircut. • "It was my little dream come true," said Josephine Torres. • The first-place winner in the Pinellas Village's Empowering Single Parents Contest spent Saturday at Ambrosia Salon in Seminole.
"It was something we never get to do: be pampered, just the girls out," said Torres, whose two children, Xavier, 9, and Jazmin, 11, wrote the winning essay.
Torres, Marjorie Stout, 49, and Lindsey Ansteatt, 27, won the special makeover as the top three finishers in the essay contest.
They were selected by the board of directors of the apartment complex, which is operated by Catholic Charities, from among 15 Pinellas Village residents who submitted entries.
"Our parents work so hard," said Jackie Tatsak, director of Pinellas Village. "We came up with this contest through our life skill classes. It goes along with rebuilding your image and self-esteem.''
It was quite a day for Torres, 41.
She rode in a limousine. "The only other time I was in one was senior prom," she said.
She received a haircut and highlights. "I went for bangs."
She closed her eyes and relaxed during a facial. "It made me glow from the inside out."
She headed home completely done over and sporting a new outfit — a black skirt with a halter top under a blazer. "It looked professional."
Her favorite part of the day was arriving back home, to celebrate with her kids. "That was everything. That they were there and I could show my kids that I won this special award."
But she almost didn't attend the event. Her daughter, Jazmin, a cancer survivor, struggled with a high fever Friday night. "My mom helped me out, though. She didn't want me to miss the makeover."
Ansteatt also relished in the moment her child saw her looking so spiffy.
"At first, she told me she wanted me to come back in a pink dress and a tiara," said Ansteatt. "When she saw me, she got so excited. I'll never forget it. My daughter said, 'I have the prettiest mommy in the whole world.' "