Pekin woman uses past experiences to inspire hope in community

Ci Heroes

PEKIn, Ill. — A Pekin woman battled alcohol addiction, was homeless, and even lost her son in a stabbing, but from her lowest point came a drop of determination.

From that moment, she’s used her own story and her own trials to help empower others to make a positive change.

Julie Rasmussen is this week’s CI Hero.

Rasmussen now owns Julz Kuts and Kolorz for All in Pekin, which is located at 285 Derby Street. She’s traded a bottle of alcohol for a bottle of hair dye, and hasn’t looked back.

“I once upon a time was homeless myself,” said Julie Rasmussen. “And I had lost a child seven years ago and I went down myself. And when I came back up, I made a promise to the community, to God, and myself, that I would try to help out.”

In Julie’s lowest point, she knew she needed to make a change.

“I’m trying to save everybody,” said Rasmussen. “We have a lot of addicts. We have a lot of recovering addicts. I try to sponsor some girls, whoever needs help. I talk to them. Sometimes just a free haircut to get them in my chair just to tell them it’s okay. I want people to know that there’s hope.”

Her second chance at success let’s her give back to those in her community whose current path reminds her of a past life. While she’s not helping adults, she turns her focus to kids in low income families.

“I was a single parent for a while,” said Rasmussen. “I know how it is. You have no idea the smile on their face. Their expressions when you tell them it’s going to cost them nothing.”

“Haircuts can really make people feel great about themselves,” said Taylor Bohanan. “And you know, that’s what I want to do.”

On Saturday, Julie and her girls, along with over 10 local volunteers, opened their doors and their services to provide more than 80 kids with haircuts to get ready for school. That doesn’t count walk ins either.

“My goal is to give them so sort of brightness,” said Rasmussen. “Hear my story and know that they can acheive their goals. The goals that they have, they know how to get to.”

Al Callaway brought his kids on Saturday.

“It helps people a lot you know, when you’re broke, you know what I mean?” said Callaway. “It helps a lot of people.”

The biggest showcase of Rasmussen’s philanthropy was Saturday, but her thoughtfulness lasts all year.

“I think she’s awesome,” said Callaway.

“She gives everybody anything,” said Bohanan. “She’d give a person the shirt off her back if they asked for it. You know, if she has a sandwich, and someone’s hungry, she gives it to them without eating lunch for the whole day. She’s just super giving and that’s what I look up to.”

Taylor Bohanan, who views Julie as a second mom, says her heart is bigger than her hair salon and her giving personality is inspiring.

“She’s who I look up to and who I want to be like in the hair industry,” said Bohanan. “So I mean, she’s helped me a lot and she guides me every day, I couldn’t ask for a better second mom.”

If someone you know has made made an impact on the community in a way you feel would make us Central Illinois Proud, please nominate them to be a CI Hero by clicking HERE.

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