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Salon owner lifts up inner, outer beauty


Kathy Patrick, owner of Beauty and the Book, a combination bookstore and salon,
styles the hair of the Rev. Allison Byerley. UMNS photos by John Gordon .

By John Gordon*
Oct. 21, 2009 | JEFFERSON, Texas (UMNS)

Beauty is in the eyes – and minds – of the beholder.

That is the philosophy Kathy Patrick, 53, has followed in building a literacy ministry from the foundation of a combination hair salon and bookstore in this small northeast Texas community.

 
Leah Cooper browses through
the shelves at Beauty and the Book.

The proprietor of Beauty and the Book also heads the Pulpwood Queens book club, which she says has grown to more than 200 chapters.

“It’s combining my two passions, hair and books,” she says. “And it’s ended up, I think, this is what God wanted me to do.”

Inner beauty

The idea for Beauty and the Book was born out of economic necessity after Patrick lost her job as a sales representative for a publishing company. Drawing on her hairdressing skills and her love for books, Patrick opened Beauty and the Book in 2000.

When Patrick and some friends were unable to join a local book club, they started their own—named the Pulpwood Queens because timber is a big part of the local economy and members wear tiaras to meetings.

“Where tiaras are mandatory and reading good books is a rule” is the club’s motto.

 
Kathy Patrick leads a children's group at First United Methodist Church in Jefferson.

 

“We all deserve to wear the crown,” Patrick says. “And who better than a beauty professional to tell you that beauty comes from within.”

Patrick then began inviting authors to speak at book club meetings and reading festivals, also offering them free makeovers at her salon. And she wrote her own life story in the book, “The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life.”

“Being a reader, I think you have a more beautiful life and you are more understanding of other people,” says Patrick.

Patrick also started Books Alive, an inspirational book festival that benefits her church, First United Methodist of Jefferson. She serves as volunteer youth director at the church.

“The sole mission of my book club and myself, personally, is to promote literacy,” she says. “In the county (where) I live, we have 39 percent adult illiteracy. And we’re not alone in this: Illiteracy is rampant in our country.”

Giving voice to the homeless

Last year, Patrick also began helping the homeless find a voice by teaching a writing class at the Newgate Mission, a United Methodist outreach in nearby Longview. She encourages Newgate clients to write life journals, which she hopes to have published in a book to benefit the mission.

“I think that if we get these all published all into a book, I think people are going to look a little bit different at the person who’s a little down on their luck,” says Patrick. “And maybe some of those who life has been more favorable to will not be so cruel and harsh to somebody who’s broken and on the streets.”

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Philip Boepple, a class member, says the exercise also gives him a better insight into his life.

“It gives me a slightly clearer view, kind of like tuning my lenses a little sharper and I look at things a little better,” says Boepple.

Patrick plans to continue expanding her book clubs, working at her salon and bookstore, organizing book festivals and volunteering at her church and Newgate Mission. It is an important calling, she says.

“I do feel God has called me for a specific purpose,” Patrick says. “Reading and sharing each others’ lives and stories, and letting us walk in somebody else’s shoes, gives us more acceptance of people that are different. It educates us, enlightens us and entertains us in ways that nothing else can.”

*Gordon is a freelance producer and writer based in Marshall, Texas.

News media contact: David Briggs, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Resources

Kathy Patrick’s Web site

Newgate United Methodist Mission

UMW Book Club Info

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