Many high school students will often travel to remote places around the world to build homes and collect food for the needy, but those with little have other needs, too.

They need a beauty salon.

This isn’t the type of beauty salon we know that specializes in hair extensions, chemical straighteners or artificial nails. This particular salon, run by a mission in Guatemala, specializes in providing the basics to people in need.

Kylee Keeton, who just graduated from Evergreen Park High School, traveled to Guatemala twice — first in February 2010 and then again in 2011.

“It is really different to see how another world works. It is a completely different country and it is fascinating to me to see how simple things like giving them a toothbrush or a lice treatment will change their life,” Keeton, 18, said.

Keeton worked in the beauty salon where the local residents were treated to the basic necessities of life as they went from station to station.

“They would transform as they went from one chair to the next,” she said. “At first, they were not very talkative, but then they’d be smiling and talking to you and so grateful for simple things that we take for granted. It warms my heart to see how I can help other people by doing something so simple.”

Keeton said that the services performed ran the gamut, from a nail trim to having bad teeth extracted.

“We also gave them shoes and things they needed like shampoo. We would talk with them and get a chance to see how they live. They would ask us questions about America,” she said.

Witnessing how helping people improve their appearance had the power to change their outlook on life was so dramatic that Keeton decided that she would make helping people with these transformations her career.

Days after graduation, she started classes at Cameo Beauty Academy in Oak Lawn. When she completes the course, she plans to attend Moraine Valley Community College and take some business classes while studying Spanish. Her goal is to open her own salon one day and return to Guatemala.

Keeton, who nearly makes a full-time job of giving back, has been volunteering at the Maranatha Chapel youth group in Evergreen Park since 2009. She also has worked the past two summers at the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge, and with the Evergreen Park Youth Commission since 2008. Over the past three years she has volunteered with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society based in South Chicago.

While attending high school, Keeton was involved with Snowball, student council, National Honor Society, Students Against Destructive Decisions, yearbook, art club, tutoring and prom committee. In addition, she was her class president for her freshman, sophomore and junior years.

Keeton is the daughter of Jamie and Donna Keeton, of Evergreen Park. Her mother, she said, is her mentor.

“She’s legally blind but she does so much. She is everything to me,” Keeton said. “She can’t do a lot physically because of her blindness, but she is always there for us. She makes sure we are involved and have good hearts because we want to help others.”

Keeton credits her mother with getting her involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“I enjoy being able to fundraise for a good cause because most of my family members have passed away from different types of cancer and we wanted to raise money for it,” she said.

Asked why she feels the need to give back, Keeton has a simple response.

“My motivation is probably just my drive to help others. When I have to fill out service hour sheets for National Honor Society, I don’t think about the hours. I just do it. I’m not looking for service hours. My motivation is just to help others,” she said.