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‘Real love’: Barbers give back through haircuts for homeless

November 21, 2017

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Randy Smitherman was walking through Linn Park in Birmingham Monday morning when he saw a group gathered in the center.

There was food, laughter and something else. It was that something else that caught the eye of the 54-year-old man who has been living on the city’s streets for eight months.

There were men and women armed with sheers, good cheer and offering something for free. “I’ve been needing a fresh cut,” Smitherman said.

A group of Birmingham area barbers, along with nonprofit The Willing Family, teamed up Monday to offer free haircuts to the homeless, the less fortunate and anyone else in need of a trim or shave. Corry Pettway, one of the Willing Family founders, said the group came together to give back to the community.

The Willing Family, Pettway said, is a group of volunteers made up of black males from throughout the city. “We got our name from our willingness to serve,” he said. “And when we come together, we make it a family atmosphere.”

One year ago, he said, the group did a Random Day Challenge where they picked a random day and did kind acts for others. As part of that, the barbers gave free haircuts and they decided to expand that to create this year’s event.

“Some people have asked us what we’re getting paid. We’re not,” Pettway said. “One of our first customers, when we got done they looked in the mirror and started crying. He said, ‘I look like a whole other person.’ That’s the payment right there. That’s what it’s about.”

Among the barbers taking part were Ashley Winters, aka “Ashley the Barber” of Hair Care Studios, Jarvis Powell who has a shop on the city’s west side, Angel Cartagena of More Style Barber Shop, Patrick Smith of Hi Definition Cuts and Styles in Leeds, Eric Miller of E-Class Barber Shop in West End and DeJuan Hall of DeJuan’s Neighborhood Shop.

“It’s a need. Everybody really doesn’t have access to this,” Hall said. “It started with a thought, and now we’ve got eight barbers out here.”

“Their response,” he said, “is all the payment we need.”

Seterius Kelly, who lives at the Firehouse Shelter, was clearly pleased with the pampering. “Oh man, it’s real love,” Kelly said. “It feels good.”

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