Local business professionals and constituents gathered Tuesday afternoon, along with students and instructors, in celebrating the grand opening of Empire Beauty School, in Morrow.
But, according to Franklin Schoeneman, chairman and CEO of Empire Education, the event wasn't just about celebrating a new beauty school –– It was about making a difference in the community.
"We don't just open in the community, we want to be a part of the community," said Schoeneman. "So, a major part is, how do we immerse ourselves into trying to make a difference in the lives of people in the community."
One of the things Empire Education has identified, nationwide, Schoeneman said, is working to prevent domestic abuse. From this revelation, Empire Education initiated a program called "Cut It Out," which teaches students and cosmetology instructors how to look for signs of domestic abuse.
In a passionate voice, he explained why this effort was so important to him and Empire Education: "This is a man-made problem," he said. "It's not something like cancer that we don't know what the cause is. It's something we should be able to change behaviors, and identify what the problems is."
Through the "Cut It Out" program, he said, Empire Education has been able to donate more than $100,000 to local domestic abuse shelters, in hopes of reducing the number of people victimized domestic violence.
He said the school will hold several charitable events to raise money, one in particular is known as the "National Day of Beauty," in which all proceeds from the event go to local domestic abuse shelters.
During the grand opening ceremony, local police officials also spoke with students about domestic abuse. Later in the ceremony, a check for $,1000 from Empire Education, was presented to Haven House, a local shelter for women and children, who have been affected domestic abuse.
Marjorie Lacy, executive director of Haven House, said, "It's been a very good connection, and it does make a difference if cosmetologists will take note, and refer people to us."
She added that she was excited to go back and refer clients to the program. "They'll be able to come and get free hair cuts, both women and children," said Lacy. "The students will even come out to the shelter to do a makeup night," which, Lacy said, will make a major difference in women's lives and help build their self-esteem.
Among business and government professionals, who joined in the celebration, were: Mike Twomey, president and executive director of the Morrow Business and Tourism Association; representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. David Scott and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson; and State Sen. Gail Davenport.
Michelle Dietrict, executive director of Empire Beauty School, said the school started out with 51 students in December, but has grown to more than 100. "Students come from as far as Carrollton to attend classes," she said. "Empire's curriculum really teaches you how to be successful."
The celebration ended with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a hair-hat fashion show, put on Empire Beauty School students. Schoeneman added: "This will mark the 103rd school we have opened between Maine and Florida."