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Beauty school owner helping single moms

"Yolanda Duran is a single mother of four and a role model to students learning cosmetology skills at her ABT Beauty Academy in San Jacinto. Saturday she will be partnering with Youth for Christ's Teenparents program to present a "Mommy and Me Celebration," raising funds for the local 3-year-old ministry.

"I wanted to get involved, and being a single mom myself, that's where my heart is," she said.

About 70 ABT students will present a cut-a-thon from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $5 per haircut. Several community organizations and residents will have information booths.

The event, at 641 N. State St. in San Jacinto, also will feature clown skits, face painting, music, raffles and gifts for teen moms and their babies, as well as a Mommy and Child fashion show at 2 p.m. and an ongoing bake sale by ABT students and staff.

"She has poured her life into making this school a success and truly cares for her students and helping them to reach their full potential," said her daughter, Josie Duran. "Her work ethic is unmatched and she is truly an inspiration to all, but especially to her four kids."

After giving birth to her first child, Duran continued to work her way up the ladder as a cosmetology instructor and landed a teaching position at the esteemed Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica.

Although married for about 11 years, she has been single for most of her motherhood years and said she worked hard to sharpen her skills and gain knowledge that would help her open her own school.

"I'm always advocating for keeping youth out of jail and out of trouble -- there's power in education," said Duran, who grew up in East Los Angeles. "At 14, I hated the world. I was scared and very angry."

Then a teacher took Duran on a clothing shopping spree and when Duran asked her why she was doing it, the woman replied: "Someday I'm going to hear great things about you."

That faith changed her life and also led Duran to renew her relationship with God.

"If you want to change things, you've got to change yourself first," she said. "To be a true Christian is to serve each other -- that's what makes you Christ-like."

Youth for Christ is a national organization that reaches out to unchurched and at-risk teenagers. The local chapter has nearly 20 volunteers from various churches throughout the San Jacinto Valley.

"We have enjoyed serving the teen parents in our community, not only offering them an opportunity to receive some help and learn some practical parenting skills but also helping them with their spiritual needs and giving them a chance to have some fun," said Dan Harris, executive director of Mt. San Jacinto Youth for Christ.

"Never have I lived anywhere with as much love, compassion and understanding to help others make it a better world than I have seen in this community," Duran said."

This article was published first on inlandsocal.com.