If you are homeless you spend much of your time figuring out where you’ll sleep and how you’ll eat. There is little time to worry about your looks. That too often makes those suffering from homelessness unseen or ignored on the streets as they are judged by their unshorn locks.
Called PMTS4Change, this inaugural event will offer free haircuts to the homeless from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on July 31 at the Cass Activity Center at 3745 Cass Ave. Along with the haircut, attendees will get a survival kit that includes sunscreen, toiletries, mints and, of course, the all-important socks.
“I believe everyone deserves to be loved and cared for. I’ve cut hair for people that can’t afford it everywhere I’ve traveled. Each time the act of loving others has created an amazing experience for the both of us,” says California hairstylist Dustin Berlin, founder of Loving the Least. “The survival kits are funded out of my own pocket and from other hairstylists and generous donors who believe in the cause.”
Loving the Least was started in southern California and is a personal project for Berlin. Aside from being a social activist and hairstylist, he was homeless so he knows how hard it is for those in that situation to get a haircut. These experiences led him to found LTL, not only to provide haircuts and fundamental needs to the homeless, but also to raise awareness.
“When most people imagine the struggles facing people who are homeless they probably only consider the most series aspects (housing, food, etc.) but they rarely take the time to think about them as human beings,” says Rev. Faith Fowler of Cass Community Social Services. “Personal hygiene is often something that has to be overlooked and by giving haircuts to the homeless they not only get to look better but they feel better about themselves. There’s also the aspect of physical human interaction that many are so frequently devoid of. Washing and cutting somebodies hair can be a very personal/intimate experience and it’s just something that makes someone who has essentially been abandoned by society feel important and loved.”
Berlin could hardly do this task alone. More than 40 stylists from Paul Mitchell Schools, along with volunteers from local salons will help in this act of altruism.
PMTS visited Cass a couple of weeks ago to tour the area. While there they did some initial haircuts and shampooing. Rev. Fowler says that meant so much to many of the people who live at Cass, particularly the children. She says even weeks later kids are still coming up to her and proudly showing off their haircuts. A little bit can go a long way when you have next to nothing.
The day of philanthropic hair styling came together when PMTS saw what Berlin did in California via social media. The school flew him out to see what could be done in the Motor City, given their history of “FUNraising” charity.
The final piece of the puzzle came when local salon owner Lynda Mac, a former homeless woman who works at Cass Community Social Services, discovered the campaign on social media. She reached out to PMTS’s Kati Gradowski about how to incorporate Cass.
PMTS4Change invites all who want to donate toiletries, first aid items, food for lunch, or their time to do so. Donations can be made up to or even at the event itself. You can contact Cass Community Social Services for more information or drop the items off at Cass Activity Center (3745 Cass Ave.) the day of the event.
If you would like to watch the event live you can go Dustin Berlin’s Periscope profile http://www.perisearch.tk/user.php?=DustinBerlin during the event.
Sean Z, a Detroit born singer/songwriter, will be on site performing his favorite songs for both attendees and volunteers.
This is a uniquely personal act of relief and compassion for Detroit’s homeless, who are too often forgotten. Remember, what we do for the least makes us and our world better.