John 6:9: (There was) a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish…
I don’t know if you saw the story this week about “Joe the Barber,” a retired Hartford hair cutter who has been giving free haircuts to the homeless for 25 years!!
Anthony Cymerys or Joe the Barber as he is better known began his haircuts for the homeless operation back in 1988 after he was moved by a sermon he heard in church about the homeless. He had just retired as a professional barber and was only cutting hair for friends and family, but after hearing this sermon he made it his goal to make a difference. He decided he wanted to help the homeless look less homeless and so he prepared a portable barber’s kit and set to work!
Since then he has been cutting hair and providing food for the homeless in Connecticut and his selfless actions have been praised and commended, as well as inspiring others to help those less fortunate than themselves.
At first he started by helping those in shelters and convalescent homes, before moving his hair-cutting operation to the downtown YMCA. After that he moved to the carousel near Bushnell Park before being asked to move on.
These days, he takes his 1996 Crown Victoria down to the Elm Street side of the park and is greeted by dozens of the homeless awaiting his services. Many of the people he cuts hair for have known him for years and he is always given an incredibly warm reception.
Joe connects his clippers to the car battery and sets to work, he discusses hair styles and the like with his clients and puts the finishing touches to his cuts with rubbing alcohol and gives out face and neck massages. He also gives out sandwiches and soup to the hungry!
All he asks in exchange for his services is a big hug, he said, “It really is love. I love these guys. That’s what it’s all about.”
By helping to tidy up the appearance of those on the streets, Joe hopes that he will help them to improve their situations by finding work or housing.
Sometimes I think we wonder what we can do with what we have to help others. Joe’s story is that of a man who considered that he had an ability, some tools and the desire to serve, and so he did.
I wonder what each of us can do, given all the God has bestowed on us.