Six nurses in Minnesota will receive free makeovers at Fantastic Sams locations, thanks to nominations they received from appreciative friends, family and colleagues. (Metro Creative image)

As frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses throughout the state — and nation — may have few opportunities to do something special for themselves.

Mandy Janzen, of Cleveland, Minnesota, recognized Woodbury nurse Kristin Dahl has worked hard during “these overworked, understaffed months of COVID,” so she nominated her for Fantastic Sams’ Holiday Makeover.

“Recently she suffered the terrible sickness as well and thankfully has recovered,” Janzen wrote in her nomination for Dahl. “She connects with each and every patient, letting them see she truly cares about the work she does. She works so hard to care for her amazing twin 2-year-old old boys at home and thinks of everyone else before herself. This would be such an uplifting surprise to her and she would be truly thankful for this Holiday Makeover … I believe each and every one of these nominees would more than deserve this great giveaway!”

Dedee Little, of Northfield, wanted the same opportunity for Stephanie Teigen, who works in the emergency room of the Northfield Hospital.

“She also is raising four children,” Little wrote in her nomination for Teigen. “She is definitely one of the super heroes!”

On Sunday, Fantastic Sams’ Kevin Steele randomly drew the names of Dahl and Teigen for the “Nominate a Nurse Holiday Makeover” at their respective salon. Over the course of a couple weeks, six Fantastic Sams locations in Minnesota accepted around 90 nominations online for this first-time drawing. Those who were selected will receive a free haircut, style, color, hair treatment and waxing at their local salon just in time for Christmas or New Year’s.

Being so moved by the number of nominations submitted, and the stories included, Steele decided to offer free haircuts and discounted colors, treatments and waxings to every nominated nurse.

“The thing that’s blowing me away, by reading each of the nominations, you want to do it for everybody,” Steele said even before the winners were selected. “ … I’m thinking about doing this more often. COVID isn’t going to leave us for quite some time, so maybe we’ll do a couple of these.”

Bri Gerads, manager of the Northfield Fantastic Sams, pitched the idea for the holiday makeover at the company’s December meeting, along with General Manager Laura Paulson. With a hospital in each of the salon locations, they decided their free makeover would focus specifically on nurses.

As the nominations came in, Gerads said, “It was awesome. I was nervous at first because there really wasn’t any and then they all just came in. It was heartwarming, too, to read all the nominations.”

Gerads herself nominated her sister, Dakota Searcy, and her aunt, Kathy Gerdes, for the makeover. She said knowing how hard they have worked during the pandemic also inspired her to offer a makeover for nurses.

“My sister works at a nursing home, and one day on the phone she was telling me that seven of her residents passed away in one day,” Gerads said. “Their families can’t be with them, so I can’t imagine what that’s like.”

Nominators in general described how the pandemic has impacted their wives, sisters, mothers and friends who already dedicate hours of their time to their patients without a pandemic going on. Many nominated nurses are raising children, picking up extra hours; some are even take online classes on top of their work.

Dustin Hale, of Faribault, nominated his wife, Heather, a licensed practical nurse at Mayo Clinic Owatonna and another recovery center, for a boatload of reasons.

“She works an eight hour day and then comes home, changes, and heads to her other job for another four to five hours,” Dustin wrote in his nomination. “On top of working two jobs, she is a mother to a 2- and 6-year-old, and is doing online school to be an RN (registered nurse). So [between] working two jobs, full time school, and taking care of two kids, she doesn’t get much time to herself. She puts her patients and family first before herself.”

Heather also nominated a nurse for the makeover, Cheryl Tilseth, of Faribault.

“Cheryl always picks up extra shifts to help wherever and whenever she is needed, whether it be to work a swabbing clinic or help a coworker out,” Heather wrote. “She never asks what she will get in return, or expects anything as she is the most selfless person that I’ve ever known. She is truly an angel sent from above to help take care of every patient she comes in contact with.”

Those who missed out on nominating the nurses in their lives for the makeover will likely have a second chance. After the holidays, Gerads said she and Steele have talked about doing Nominate a Nurse again, most likely around Valentine’s Day.

Steele also shared the idea with other Fantastic Sams owners around the country and heard that locations in Texas plan to offer the same drawing.

“This won’t be the only time,” Gerads said. “It might be something we keep continuing to do. Giving back to people is just something that I like to do as a way of saying ‘thank you.’”

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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