(Hesperia) – I love New Yorkers. I love their accents, their mannerisms, and the way they tell stories. Having been born and raised in California, and having only traveled as far east as Texas, I’ve never had the chance to go to New York. So my only experiences have been with the folks who have moved here from New York. And I just love them.
When I first met Sandra Rings, owner of Salon Diva, her New York accent immediately jumped out at me and I couldn’t wait to get to know her better. Sandra was recently named Hesperian of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce, an honor she said she never expected and was overwhelmed and deeply grateful to have won.
We sat down at her salon to talk about how she felt after winning the award, the charity work that she does, and what it means to be Hesperian of the Year.
HDD: How did you feel when they announced your name as Hesperian of the Year?
Sandra: I can’t really explain it, I was definitely in shock! It was definitely an honor. It just shows the respect that people have for the work that I’ve done and how appreciated that it is, and how useful it has been. So, it means a lot. My insurance guy, Matt Hawkins made the announcement. And the way that the people received it at the luncheon, I started crying. Everyone jumped to their feet in a second, it didn’t even take a minute for little by little, and I just cried the whole time.
I was thinking – me of all people in the world? I thought Hesperian of the Year was for someone who saves a cat out of a tree or a neighbor out of a burning building. And that’s even good. But for me to get it, I felt like I had won the $108 million lottery. My heart and my soul were just like – wow! I’m very honored. And the people that nominated me are very well respected business people in the community and that’s what made it even better, that they chose me.
It’s funny because when I opened the salon I did a presentation at the Chamber of what my goals were as far as charity work. And duRings the year, you kind of wonder, “Did I make my goal, am I doing enough, am I helping people?” And then this award comes along, so you know you made your goal. It wasn’t even about making a profit; the goal was to help the community. I’m doing a presentation next week and so now I’m ready to up the goals. And I just feel that because of this I want to do even better now.
HDD: What were the goals that you laid out in your presentation to the Chamber?
Sandra: One of the goals was to help as many cancer patients as we could through the hair restoration process: to restore their scalp, help their hair to grow back, and as their hair grows back to design it, cut it, color it, do whatever they want. And we did that. It was good to see them feeling better when they came in here. I’ll give them coffee, shave their heads, clean their scalp and give a sympathetic ear while they talk about their battle with cancer and the cost of their treatment. It is so sad and I wish that I could just pay for everybody. Then a month or two goes by and the next side of the story is that they’re not talking about co-pays anymore, they’re taking about their next test to see if they’ve recovered, they’re talking about “Oh my gosh I can’t believe how much my hair has grown out”. And then another month and a half to two months goes by, the test results were clear, they just need one pill, and they are ready for hair cutting. It’s amazing to see the turnaround from one month to another.
Another goal was working with seniors. Because they are on a fixed income I like to do things for them for the holidays or once every quarter. But the amazing thing is that I had so many Hesperia Chamber members help me here at the salon. I made the announcement, “I’m having Valentine’s Day for the seniors, if you have a grandma that can’t afford to get her hair done, have her come over.” Then Steve Orr with High Desert Primary Care says, “Hey, can I send flowers?” And then you have Amy Morker that says, “Can I make candy?” And Cindy Shattuck that says, “Can I drive seniors? Do they need a ride?” Then you have Olga with Desert First Aid and Safety who comes in just to play hostess, and Carrie Oliver with Omega Architect that is answeRings my phones, taking everyone’s name and address so we can send them a card, and setting everything up for the morning and serving coffee. Then Chamber members who are popping in throughout the day to see if we need anything. So if it wasn’t for all of that help with every event that we’ve had here, it wouldn’t have gone as smoothly or been as fun.
A third goal that I am always working on is a food drive. We need to feed as many families as we possibly can.
HDD: Tell us a little about your background.
Sandra: I’ve been married going on 7 years in September, no kids. I married my husband when I was 39 ½ and every negative thing that could have gone wrong between the age of 1 and 39 ½ was so worth it because the man that I married was like…I can’t even explain it. It’s like the heavens opened and God said, “Here’s an angel for you”. He’s from Tucson and I’m from New York, so for the first four years we didn’t even say hi to each other. He just thought I was so mean because I have a tone. When we New Yorkers say hi, it’s like we’re yelling.
I’ve lived in the High Desert going on 21 years in June. I came from New York when I was 15, so I’ve been in California for 31 years. I got used to the desert; it kind of grew on me. I liked that it was a small town, and then the next thing you know it started growing. Then I go down the hill and I’m like “Well, the High Desert is not that big” and then I come back up here and “Oh, I feel safe again”.
I opened this salon 16 months ago. I was working at another salon down the hill, some things happened there, and my husband and I decided I should open my own salon. I already knew where I wanted it to be, I had been eyeing this location for 4 years. I liked it because of where it was, and that it was near a stop light and a bank. We toured it on a Wednesday, signed the paperwork that Saturday, and opened up November 1st.
HDD: So now that you’ve won Hesperian of the Year and achieved the goals you set for yourself last year, what are the goals you’ve set for this year?
Sandra: I’ll give you a preview – one of the goals is that I definitely need a bigger food drive. It has to be publicized more. The one time that I did a food drive at the other salon my goal was 500 items in 30 days. In 13 days I got 500 items. The United Way was like – wow! So, we need to do that again. I think that if other businesses would help to get the word out, or even have a food drive at their location, we’ll collect so much more food to give to the United Way. And that’s what I’m going to ask when I give my next presentation to the Chamber.
Sandra Rings is the owner of Salon Diva on Main and 11th in Hesperia, right next to Desert Community Bank. She is also an Ambassador for the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce. You can reach Sandra at 760-948-8808.