SAN ANTONIO – – A haircut seems so simple, but for those experiencing homelessness, a physical makeover can make big goals a reality.
Two teenagers understood this and helped transform Haven for Hope Hair Care Center into a beautiful space with a sense of dignity.
On Wednesday afternoon, Jason Garrett sat down in the lounge’s cozy leather chair.
Staff barber James Brown prepared to show off his skills.
To an observer, it could have been any ordinary day at a high-end hair salon.
In fact, it was not normal at all.
The conversation, the goal, and the place are connected by one thing – homelessness.
“I started to fall behind in my calculations. I lost my car, so the two years I was here in San Antonio, I was basically living off my car,” Garrett said.
Garrett lives at Haven for Hope in downtown San Antonio, where the hair care center just got a makeover.
“Now I’m working as a parking enforcement officer at the airport because I got a haircut here,” he said.
That’s right – he got a great job, took an important step in life and got a haircut.
“A good sharpness will change a person’s perspective and how they feel about themselves,” Garrett said.
“You go into the business world, look presentable, hair done. So the tie, the shoes make all the difference in the world,” Brown said.
Brown knows this because he lived at Haven for Hope 12 years ago when the shelter opened.
“The average person is only two or three wages away from being homeless. So much can happen to a person that you don’t judge,” he said.
Six years ago, Brown regained his professional hairdressing license and started giving back by running a hair salon for free.
Back then, the center was just a clinical white room with a few chairs and mirrors.
Then, about 10 months ago, along came Jack and Emma Heaney, Clark High School teenagers and dedicated Boy Scouts.
During a visit to Haven for Hope, Jack noticed a hair care center.
“I could see it wasn’t in the best shape and it could really affect the people who live here,” Jack said.
He decided to make it his Eagle Scout project, and it quickly became a family affair.
Emma jumped in as part of her Gold Award Project.
“He did all the repairs. I had a photographer and we got beautiful artwork and we got all the supplies we needed to get it going,” said Emma.
Almost everything in the center is new, including the floors, wall color, artwork, storage cabinets, leather chairs, and a cabinet full of groceries.
Brown said a nice salon will attract more customers, but he can’t serve them all himself.
He hopes the updates will inspire other barbers to volunteer with him.
“Recruit me. We can get here and we can really help people,” he said.
“It’s kind of surreal to think that the two of us have made such a big impact on this community,” Emma said.
The proof of this impact was in the disclosure.
Garrett was silent for a moment, watching the new man in the mirror.
He looked up and said, “It makes one feel more normal.”
Normal, which basically means worthy, dignified and accepted by society, Garrett now knows that he really cares about him and his future.
If you would like to make a donation or volunteer to work at the Haven for Hope Hair Care Center, please call Volunteer Services at (210) 220-2549 or email email@example.com.
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