St. Albert Gazette – Grinch Unwelcome at Christmas Eve Dinner

by Dec 6, 2016Blog

What would you do if your new business was burglarized on a day that should otherwise have been filled with peace and joy?

That’s just what happened at Voodoo Hair Salon last year but instead of letting the crime cast a gloomy shadow over an otherwise auspicious occasion, co-owner Lauren Baril is teaming up with a local charity to host a free dinner for area residents who don’t really have anywhere else to share in the spirit of the season.

Experience Kaleo founder Layna Haley helped conspire to turn the occasion into a party.

“Lauren contacted me and said, ‘Our salon wants to do some kind of Christmas giveback.’ I said, ‘Why don’t we do a Christmas dinner for people that have nobody?’ We decided that we would join forces.”

And thus, the Christmas Connect dinner was born. This Christmas Eve, people are invited to a free meal when they might not otherwise have any family to spend time with.

“We thought it would be a great way to redeem that day for them. It was devastating for them on more than just a financial level but on an emotional level too. After everything you’ve poured your heart into, somebody has come in and tried to steal that from you. Let’s make that day beautiful again.”

As far as Baril is concerned, it’s a great idea all around.

“Ten days after we launched the opening of our salon last year, we were rudely broken into on Christmas Eve,” she began. “There were so many kind people from the community that came together and showed us support in so many ways after the break-in. After a successful year, we wanted to pay that good karma forward, and thank the community for the kindness they showed us.”

She added that she is hoping to make this an annual tradition.

“I love that instead of reminiscing of our gloomy Christmas in 2015, we are finding a way to celebrate it. It was the dark beginning of a beautiful year.”

Haley continued that they hope to connect people not just on the evening of the meal but throughout the rest of the year as well. “We’re hoping to create a ripple effect.”

The Christmas Connect dinner is set to be held on Saturday, Dec. 24 starting at 4 p.m. It’s a free event but those people who are interested in attending or who would like to nominate someone to be a guest are asked to pre-register by visiting www.experiencekaleo.com before Dec. 1.

If it’s a modestly sized event, the organizers say that they could host it right at the salon on its upper level.

“If the need is great enough, we’ll look for another venue. We don’t want to turn people away,” Haley said, noting that she hopes to acquire event sponsors who can donate money or dishes for the meal such as turkeys.


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