BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
It has been nine years since Dr. Cheryl James overheard that fateful conversation between her daughter and a classmate, Taylor.
Taylor, a second grade student at the time, suffered from a brain aneurism which left her bald, and although she was well enough to return to school, she worried about being teased.
Moved by what she heard, James, a minister from Jamaica, felt as though she needed to do something to help Taylor regain her self confidence and feel comfortable about going back to school. So, rather than buy Taylor a Barbie doll or another toy, she came up with an idea.
“I credit God with giving me an idea. I had always played around with a lot of wigs or hair pieces. I never had a cosmetology degree or license, but it was something I always had a love for, so it was easy for me to try to create things,” James said. “I recalled having a beautiful yellow scarf and I took some of my hair pieces and cut them up a little bit and placed a bang on the scarf.”
Excited by her creation, James and her daughter visited Taylor in the hospital with the headpiece in hand and wrapped it around her head.
And before she had known it, James had paved the way to the start of Where There’s A Need – a nonprofit that seeks to provide support and encouragement to women and children with cancer and other diseases that result in hair loss and baldness.
The nonprofit creates scarves, hats, baseball caps and turbans with hair, giving women and girls suffering from medical conditions such as cancer, alopecia, discoid lupus, scalp eczema and female baldness the appearance of having hair.
“I tell you, you feel a lot of joy,” James said. “There’s emotion behind it because you realize the difference that this really makes for some. Sometimes, you don’t understand until you’re in the position or you know a close friend that is in the position – it really hits home.”
Since it was founded, Where There’s A Need has given away hundreds of headpieces and hundreds of wigs to children, women and seniors who would not normally be able to afford them on their own.
“You leave happy and you leave with a sense of purpose, but sometimes, you also leave with tears in your eyes because you understand that it might be minor for someone, but it’s major for someone else,” she said. “It’s hard to comprehend what these women are going through. They are fighting for their lives.”
For information about Where There’s A Need, visit www.wheretheresaneed.org or call Dr. Cheryl James at (347) 223-2774.
Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @nkozikowska.