Rosalie Doherty has been going to Mario Tricoci salons since her first haircut.
“I just love the way she comes out of the salon feeling good about herself and knowing how beautiful she looks,” Colleen Doherty, Rosalie’s mom, said.
Rosalie, 12, was born with Down syndrome. She loves to swim. She has three brothers. She has beautiful chestnut hair that hangs just past her shoulders, and bangs that frame her face.
“I just thought, ‘If she and I can do this, why shouldn’t the residents at Misericordia have the same experience?’ ” Colleen Doherty said. “It’s about dignity and humanity and self-esteem.”
Rosalie lives at home with her parents, but Colleen Doherty said she envisions her daughter spending her adult years at Misericordia, a Chicago-based home for children and adults with developmental disabilities, run by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy. Her husband, Jay Doherty, sits on Misericordia’s advisory board.
In April, Colleen Doherty approached Sister Rosemary Connelly, executive director of Misericordia.
On its 31-acre campus, Misericordia has an aquatic center and a yoga studio, a dental clinic and a medical clinic. There’s a restaurant, the Greenhouse Inn and Hearts & Flour Bakery, where residents make cookies and brownies and other treats.
A hair salon, Doherty figured, would be a perfect addition. Residents, some of whom use wheelchairs, some of whom have severe developmental as well as physical disabilities, wouldn’t have to be transported off campus to have their hair cut and styled.
“Sister said to me, ‘Colleen, I always work better when my hair is done,’ ” Doherty said.
That was her green light.
Doherty and her husband made some calls. Retired associate judge Mark Ballard connected them to Mario Tricoci, the man behind the chain of 14 high-end salons and day spas that started as a single Villa Park beauty shop 40 years ago.
“At this point in my life, I’m 77,” Tricoci said. “I’ve done shows and hair all over the world — Japan, China, Brazil, Italy, France, you name it. We have had, thank God, great success. We have a great staff. This is giving back — not to the industry, but to the community.”
Tricoci styled Connelly’s hair as he spoke.
“I can almost cry,” Tricoci said, tearing up. “It’s emotional. When we get a person, here or anywhere, and once we do their hair and we hear those words, ‘I love my hair. You made my day,’ how sweet is that? It’s priceless.”
Tricoci was on-site for opening day of the new salon, located in a sunlit room that used to house a computer lab. He worked alongside volunteer stylists from his salons and Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, the company’s training grounds.
Stylists worked their magic at three other stations stocked with nylon capes, flat irons, hair dryers, styling cream and blowout spray.
Two more Tricoci employees worked the sinks, shampooing and conditioning hair.
Misericordia will establish set days and hours for the salon once administrators have a better sense of the demand, but the Tricocis have committed to permanently staffing it with volunteers.
Gina Doherty (no relation to Colleen’s family) waited on a couch outside the salon for her daughter, Jackie, to have her hair styled.
Jackie is 32. She has cerebral palsy and is visually impaired. She uses a wheelchair. She lives at Misericordia full time, but her mom visits throughout the week for dinner and takes her back to the family’s home every weekend.
“It’s wonderful what they’re doing,” Gina Doherty said. A stylist on-site, she said, is a game-changer.
Meanwhile, back in the salon, clippers buzzed and dryers whirred and clients squealed with delight.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful gift,” Connelly said of the salon. “The only reason we have all that we have here is so many people have said, our children not only have a right to life, but one worth living.”