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From Head to Toe

Brian Gets ShornHere are a few excerpts from Doing It Homeless, the website created by Kendoll, an actor/Web designer who lives in his car in Los Angeles. His advice to other homeless men is, invest in electric clippers which, although a big-budget item to a pauper, save lots of money in the long run. Learning to cut your own hair, even the back, is not so hard, he says. He also discusses body hair (we won’t) and beards.

This is Kendoll:

Ok, this one’s tricky, if you’re finna rock facial hair, just keep it trimmed and LINED UP! Don’t do the scraggly thing, it’s not crackin’… if you want to keep growing, just line it up under your jawline and below your cheekbones… Shaving cream is expensive… use Dove soap, it’s cheap, it’s thick (work to lather) and it protects from nicks and cuts. With no money, like me, your whole shaving kit shouldn’t exceed 10 dolla to make ya holla. Keep it clean!

Kendoll quotes football star Deion Sanders, who said:

If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, you get paid good.

Of course, a guy probably needs a few practice runs before accomplishing a home-grown haircut fit for a job interview. Thanks to various wonderful volunteers, there are places around America where people experiencing homelessness can get enough of a makeover to make a good appearance at an important appointment.

In Kansas City, MO, there’s Madalyn Wetzel, formerly an Army nurse and now a hair stylist. Long ago, she, her husband, and their baby boy were homeless. Times were bad, and she even pawned her wedding ring. A great deal of generous help was extended to the little family, and they eventually got on their feet, and Wetzel feels a need to give back.

Her good deeds are organized by a nonprofit group called Neighbor2Neighbor, which is housed in a church basement where meals and other services are provided. They arranged for Wetzel to use a corner of a thrift store as a barber shop, and she takes care of the guys with job interviews first. Reporter James Hart tells us that on her very first day, Wetzel gave 17 haircuts. By the time Hart approached her for an interview, she had been serving the homeless in this way for about a year.

In Annapolis, MD, the homeless women’s shelter called Willow House is one of the sites covered by Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation (RBCF), another nonprofit. Interestingly, its goal is phrased in terms of a service rendered to the people who give, not the ones who receive. Psychologically, this is probably very useful when the organization seeks funding. The organization’s webpage says:

Our mission is to provide comprehensive management to donors whose desire is to support projects that improve the grooming, hygiene and well-being of individuals who cannot afford regular personal care products and services… These products and services are directed to projects at residential, transitional, emergency housing facilities and Title One Public Schools. These projects ensure that those who are homeless, in treatment or wards of the State attend job interviews, work and/or school with a neat and clean appearance.

RBCF also operates a full-service barber shop at a site in Baltimore where 410 males are temporarily housed while taking part in drug treatment. There is also the new Lighthouse Shelter in Anne Arundel County, and participation in the annual Homeless Resource Day, where several hundred of the local people experiencing homelessness are given grooming services at no charge.

Another source says of founder Rob Cradle:

He started the foundation about 10 years ago and grew it to include six sites, but that number has been cut in half due to the poor economy and difficulty to raise money. The three salons cost roughly $130,000 a year to operate. Last year, the foundation provided over 6,000 free grooming services to homeless people.

Cradle says he spends about 4/5ths of each day raising money. He was named a People magazine hero a few years back, and been named as a “Give Back Day Hero” as well as receiving other well-deserved honors.

And now for something completely different — feet! Allan Appel wrote about an unusual and much-needed event for the New Haven Independent. Many Christian denominations practice foot-washing, especially on the Thursday before Easter, and a Connecticut church has taken an ancient ritual to the next level.

This new tradition was started two years ago by Trinity Episcopal Church and its homeless outreach program, “Chapel on the Green,” and even the bishop shows up to help. It’s not just a symbolic gesture, but a podiatry clinic. The parishioners not only wash the feet of 40 homeless visitors, but inspect for and treat medical problems. This includes a brief interview about the person’s general health, a wash, a foot massage, and a coat of lotion. Then, the person gets a new pair of socks and a $40 shoe store voucher:

According to Rev. Alex Dyer of St. Paul and St. James in Wooster Square, the average homeless person walks 8.5 miles a day. John Nelson… said 8.5 is nothing. ‘My feet is my money,’ he said, adding that he often covers 18 to 20 miles a day collecting cans and doing odd jobs. He sleeps in the city’s overflow shelter…

A nurse from the local health center’s homeless outreach program decides who has problems that need attention, like toes in danger of being lost to diabetes, and arranges to follow up with further care.

Thanks to selfless volunteers in communities across the nation, people experiencing homelessness get needed help and, even more important, the knowledge that society has not forgotten them.

Reactions?

Source: “Essential Male Grooming…for the income impaired,” Doing It Homeless, 12/09/10
Source: “Missouri woman offers free haircuts to the homeless,” KMOV.com, 10/07/11
Source: “Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation,” RBCF.info
Source: “Grooming Services Help Homeless Move Toward Better Future,” Historic Annapolis, MD Patch, 02/13/11
Source: “Homeless Feet Washed,” New Haven Independent, 04/23/11
Image by Kevin Lawver, used under its Creative Commons license.

  1. Rober Cradle says:

    This is a tremendous article! It is written extremely well. Thanks for including us (RBCF). You totally nailed who we are and what we are about. You are a very skilled writer. Please keep up the good work.