It was getting a little out of control, but he didn’t trust that anyone could help.
Dalton, a teen at the Oasis Youth Shelter in Fort Myers, needed a haircut, but there were obstacles.
“My hair had grown out bad but I didn’t have no money to get [a haircut].”
After noticing that other young many shared the same struggle (and it was affecting their confidence) Erick Scott—the Oasis Staff Supervisor—and Jacquie Matthew Williams—Outreach and Mentoring Coordinator– set out on a mission to help the boys get the attention they deserved.
The LSF team members began calling around to local barbershops, and they even visited seven in person. Jacquie asked if they’d be willing to participate in an initiative they began calling “Boys to Barbers”, which would include donating free haircuts to underserved boys.
After explaining the program, eight barbershops eagerly signed-up, ready to lend a helping hand.
Carl Jennings, a barber at Groom Lounge, explained why joining the program was an easy decision for him.
“These young dudes are experiencing misfortunes like homelessness, family issues, school problems,” —and you’re judged on how you look,” Carl said with conviction. “If they ain’t looking good, they ain’t feeling good. So I’m gonna use my skills and talent so they can do and be better.”
The impact of the haircuts was almost immediate.
“I watched [the teens] exit the van when we arrived,” Erick recalls. He says the boys were nervous and didn’t have much faith that the barbers would be able to give them stylish cuts.
But the barbers cared about what they wanted, asking each young man what he was looking for.
“I saw smiles and laughter, and after each one was finished he would look in the mirror with a full-blown, light-up-the-room smile.”
While LSF staff works hard to help at-risk teens develop confidence and self-acceptance, they understand that how one feels about his or her appearance can make a difference on their overall esteem.
Community partnerships are critical to providing well-rounded emotional, mental, and physical care for our community’s most vulnerable children, and it speaks to the power of coming together for a common cause.
As a way to show their appreciation, Erick presented the barbers with certificates of appreciation.
But the joy and satisfaction they received from the teens was all the appreciation the barbers really needed.