Beyond haircuts, alumna provides hope

Katie Meredith

About five years ago, Rachel Hile ’00, noticed a book on her shelf that she hadn’t thought about in years. “I remember that was unusual for me. I don’t usually hold onto things like that for so long.” It was a copy of Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby, which she read in a Bible study with Mrs. Olson her senior year. She decided to do the study again as an adult and discovered, “Honestly, it was life-changing. Over 15 years later, her discipleship continued to impact my life.”

In the late 1990s, the Hile family was looking for a school with education support for their younger daughter, Rachel. When they discovered BCS’s Student Academic Services (SAS) program, they enrolled her in 3rd grade at Three Points, along with their older daughter Amy, ‘98 (McKamey, maiden Hile). Their brother Josh, ’05, went to Three Points and graduated from BCS as well.

As a student, she remembers enjoying English and drama with Mr. Berg, who challenged her to step out of her comfort zone when acting. In addition to Bible study with Mrs. Olson, she took Bible classes from Mr. Olson. In wood shop with Mr. Royce, she built a dinner table that she still uses to this day. Hile was in a variety of friend groups and sports teams. Even when school itself was challenging, she was thankful for her close relationships with friends.

“I look back and feel so overwhelmingly blessed that I had a Christian education. Sometimes I take it for granted because my faith is so strong today. I forget that when people ask me questions about faith, I have a lot of knowledge that others may not have, because of what I learned about the Bible and other religions at BCS.”

After graduating from BCS, Hile went to Bellevue College before transferring to Western Washington University. There she earned her B.A. in Communication with a minor in English and after graduating in 2004, she went to work as an event planner for a magazine called Washington CEO.

From her experience in the corporate world, Hile realized that she was not made for a desk job. She decided to make her lifelong dream of beauty school a reality and graduated from Gene Juarez in 2006 with her cosmetology license.

After becoming a hairstylist, she started thinking of ways to use her new skill to serve others, beyond conventional appointments. She reached out to local nonprofits like the YWCA and support services for foster kids, offering her hair styling services for free. She quickly became frustrated with the limited impact she was having in the community.

“If you’re a stylist who wants to volunteer to give haircuts, you have to contact the nonprofit, set a date, go there, and do a few cuts. If you’re going to a shelter and 100 people want a haircut….you can only do so many on your own.”

As Hile was wrestling with this problem, her young nephew Matthew passed away in his sleep very suddenly. God used this family tragedy to call her to a greater purpose. He made it clear that His call for her life was to use her gifts in humble service to others. Hile’s response to this call was to co-found a nonprofit organization, The Beyond Project.

Since 2015, The Beyond Project has bridged the gap between hair stylists, barbers, makeup artists and nonprofits who need their help. They are currently working with human service nonprofits in Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, and Seattle to connect each organization with local stylists who are willing to volunteer.

For people who are working to rebuild their lives, a great haircut can be the first step in having the confidence to succeed in a job interview or rebuild their self-esteem. Through The Beyond Project, one of Hile’s greatest passions has been caring for women have who have been rescued from human trafficking.

“After being required to look a certain way, sometimes for a long time, I get to help them rediscover their identity by choosing the way they get to look. Through hair and makeup, I can show women what it means to love themselves.”

In the future, Hile hopes to have a branch of The Beyond Project in every major city in the U.S., as well as international centers. You can learn more about The Beyond Project here: