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HOPE Week brings makeovers to Bronx elderly

NEW YORK -- There really is no such thing as being "too old" for a makeover, and the GlamourGals are proving it every day.

Founded by Rachel Doyle in 2000, GlamourGals is an organization which focuses on providing makeovers for the elderly living in senior homes. Following the death of her grandmother in a Nevada nursing home, Doyle established the first chapter when she was just a sophomore in high school. Since then, Doyle has watched her organization grow to more than 62 chapters spanning 13 states with over 1,300 volunteers.

Most GlamourGals members are high school or college-aged volunteers. A typical day at a senior home involves hair styling, manicures and light massages for both male and female residents. Every once in a while Doyle and her assistants will organize a "mega makeover" at a nursing home, bringing in members of the local media and perhaps a local celebrity.

Doyle said Thursday topped them all.

Nothing seemed out of place at the East Haven Nursing Home in the Bronx on Thursday -- that is until Nick Swisher, David Robertson and Brett Gardner walked through the door. As part of HOPE Week 2012 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel), the Yankees surprised Doyle, about 15 GlamourGals volunteers -- the organization's chapter in the Bronx was just founded in April -- and a room full of residents, helping out with anything from nail filing to manicures.

"It's all about giving back," Swisher said. "If you look at your life, there've probably been a lot of things that have been given to you throughout your life. So to be able to give back and put a smile on people's faces and to just inspire people to do better, that's what HOPE Week is all about and I'm just so excited to be here."

Swisher said Doyle's motivation to start GlamourGals was familiar -- soon after the death of his own grandmother, the Yankees right fielder donated eight inches of hair to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program, which creates wigs for women with cancer. He also organized Swish's Wishes in 2007, an organization dedicated to aiding children who are facing vital health issues.

The GlamourGals motto is "more than makeup and manicures," which Doyle says couldn't be any more accurate. Makeovers aside, the personal attention provided by GlamourGals volunteers helps foster self-esteem within residents, builds relationships and provides the frequent visitors many of the residents do not typically receive.

"A makeover can be done by anyone," Doyle said. "It's a tool for conversation, it's something relevant and familiar and it's something we all have a funny story about."

Doyle was at a loss for words when she tried to describe just how surprised she was by the Yankees' arrival. Even as no stranger to big-time members of the media -- Doyle has been featured in The New York Times and on The Oprah Winfrey Show -- she never expected what Thursday had to offer. Completely surprised, Doyle took a few minutes away from the action to cancel her dinner plans for the evening, as her and the attending GlamourGals volunteers were invited to join the Yankees for batting practice before Thursday night's series opener against the White Sox.

To kick off Thursday's festivities, the Yankees presented Doyle's organization with a $10,000 donation. After some photos with the super-sized check and a pep talk from Doyle, Swisher, Robertson and Gardner circled the room, sparking up conversations with everyone present and even gave manicures to a handful of lucky residents.

"It's such a special day, not only for us and the Yankees to come here and do this, but for the elderly here," said Gardner, whose wife, Jessica, also took part in Thursday's event. "They're obviously really excited about us being here, and I'm just trying to bring a smile to their face."

The three players' presence alone was enough to coax smiles out of even the shyest residents, but the effort didn't stop there.

Though he gave only one, Swisher didn't hesitate to brag about how good he is at giving manicures, and Robertson might be the first to enroll for a lesson.

"I have painted my wife's toenails before -- once -- but it didn't turn out too well," Robertson said of his wife, Erin, who was also in attendance on Thursday. "She was not very happy with it."

Brett Gardner, David Robertson, Nick Swisher