IN MY WORDS: Scott Gubala, Loaves and Fishes Volunteer Barber
Saturday mornings for many people are a time to run errands, do chores around the house, or, perhaps, just sit and read the newspaper (or check out the news online). Not me.
If you want to find me on a Saturday morning, especially between 9:00 - 11:00 a.m., all you have to do is stop by Loaves and Fishes Community Meals for the Hungry in my neighborhood, East Nashville. That's where I have been for more than 18 months. ..with my barber tools.
Cutting hair has been a hobby for me for quite a while. The world of barber shops and all of the tools of the trade have fascinated me since I was a kid.
I've been cutting hair for friends and family for more than 20 years. It finally occurred to me that I could do it for the Loaves and Fishes guests, too!
The original spark for the idea came from seeing a story on TV about Anthony Cymerys, a professional barber who, at the time of the story, had been providing free haircuts in a park in Hartford, CT for more than 20 years.
His commitment to providing his talents free-of-charge to anyone in need was very inspirational.
In the past, when I have signed up to volunteer for an organization, I have often felt not necessarily needed or crucial to the cause, either because there wasn't enough to do or because I was just another nameless volunteer who got a free t-shirt.
My heart is in service, but I also wanted to be able to provide a service that wasn't being provided by everyone else in Nashville.
I borrowed Mr. Cymerys' idea and asked Jeff High and Wendy Overlock, Loaves and Fishes staff members, if they thought the idea was feasible and if they would let me.
Initially, guests (primarily men, but some women, too) at Loaves and Fishes were a bit leery of me. Soon, though, word spread that I knew my way around scissors and clippers and that I could cut all types of hair of all ethnic groups. I have provided somewhere around 400 haircuts so far.
There's nothing better than pulling into Loaves and Fishes on a Saturday morning and being greeted by the guests with "I'm first, I'm second, I'm third..." It is nice to feel wanted and know that the service I provide is valued.
Everyone is grateful...most offer to sweep up hair to "pay" for their haircut.
I know how good I feel after a haircut, getting a new lease on life and all. I hope that they feel a bit of calm for however long it takes to get a haircut.
I am glad that I can offer that free of charge to someone who might be going through a tough Saturday, a tough week, or a tough life.
A free haircut won't solve homelessness, addiction(s), or poverty, but it is a small gesture of kindness...and kindness is the golden rule.
Scott Gubala is the Executive Assistant for Catholic Charities of Tennessee's Administration department. He has worked with Catholic Charities since 2007.