Samantha Hubbard, owner of and hairdresser at Industry Hair and Body Care, recently saw a Facebook meme go by in her news feed of a New York hairdresser who was doing free haircuts for the homeless.
“The first time I saw it, I was like, ‘oh, that’s really cool,’ and I let it go by,” Hubbard says as she works away under a tent behind the No. 1 firehall Sunday night. She’s cutting the hair of a a man who simply goes by Alfie. “But then for two days at work, I was like, ‘wow, Sam, why didn’t you act on that?’”
She didn’t have to stew about it for long, because it showed up in her feed again a few days later.
“When it went by again, it was like God saying, ‘you know what, Sam? I’ve given you a talent, and you need to go share it.’”
So she made a Facebook post of her own, asking for donations of toiletries and personal care products she could bring along with her when she hauled her chairs and scissors over to the firehall – where the Grassroots Kind Hearts Society serves dinner – and the response was amazing.
“That whole table over there is courtesy of one post on Facebook saying ‘this is what I want to do, can anybody help?’ and look what happened,” she says.
“We’ve got men’s kits and ladies kits and face creams and jewelry and soaps and you name it,” says Anne Hartwell, who immediately volunteered to help after the idea came up in conversation while she was sitting in Hubbard’s chair at Industry.
“The community has been fabulous. You just put the word out and people rise to the occasion.”
That’s what Grassroots Kind Hearts is hoping, as well. They have been feeding the homeless for over a year now – recently going to seven nights per week – and are struggling to keep momentum going.
“What we really need is volunteers who can cook something, bring it down and serve it, but we’ll take any help we can get,” says Linda Dwyer, a volunteer with the society, “whether that’s just something someone makes that we can pick up and bring down here and we’ll bring their pans and serving dishes back to them or someone who has some fruit we can come pick.”
With no government funding to speak of, the group has been mainly paying out of the pockets of their volunteers, with the occasional public or business donation.
“What Industry is doing here today is so great,” Dwyer says, “and is another example of a few businesses that have really stepped up to help. Kermit and Betty from Associated Tire came down and did a salmon barbecue for us one night, and Pathfinder Travel actually did a dinner for us instead of having a Christmas party, which was just fantastic,” she says, “but we could also really use some corporate sponsors who might fund things like paper plates or other supplies we need that really add up after a while.”
Members of the public and local businesses interested in helping Grassroots Kind Hearts are encouraged to contact them through their Facebook page or website (grassrootskindhearts.org) to get involved. As for Hubbard, she says she’ll be back, too.
“Is there anything better than getting a fresh haircut to make you feel a bit better about yourself, even if it’s just for a couple of hours?”