Gollaz, who works at Studio4C's Barbershop in
Racine, gives a haircut to Chris Sidebottom of
Racine during a free-cut event sponsored by the
Andis Foundation on Monday, July 29, 2019, at the
Racine Hospitality Center, 614 Main St., in
RACINE — Chris
Sidebottom was starting his new job last month. He was
about to board a bus to Milwaukee to go to work, but
stopped to get a haircut first.
Sidebottom stopped in at
the Hospitality Center on a Monday morning, the Downtown
services hub that helped him stay on his feet when he
became homeless for the first time eight years ago.
One Monday every month,
barbers donate their time and talents to give free
haircuts at the Hospitality Center, 614 Main St. It's a
Downtown respite service that complements the free
meals, donated clothes and other aids the charity
provides to Racine's impoverished community.
About 30% of the
Hospitality Center's patrons are homeless, with the
other 70% mainly comprised of people who are low income.
"This helps me a
lot," Sidebottom said, as runs a hand through his
freshly cut hair. "This helps me make a real good
first impression at work."
The Rev. Seth Raymond, an
Episcopal pastor who serves as the Hospitality Center's
executive director, said that the haircuts are only one
aspect of the "co-located services model" he
wants to further implement at the center.
"It's been a goal of
mine for a long time . to have one place where you can
meet all of your basic needs," Raymond said.
"This allows (Hospitality Center clients) to use
their money and energy for more important things,"
like finding work or taking care of their kids or
addressing medical needs.
appearance is the first way people interact with
us," Raymond said. He wants the Hospitality Center
to fulfill "all those really fundamental needs that
touch our dignity."
In addition to the
community, support groups and food provided four days a
week at the center, there is a free laundry day the
final Wednesday of every month. A local dentist stops in
bi-monthly, as does a representative from Racine County
Human Services. Four times a year, nursing students from
Carthage College provide checkups on-site.
Nationwide, the average
haircut for women costs $45; for men, the average is
$28, according to the Professional Beauty Association.
Even at cheaper salons, prices bottom out near $14 for
adults, and that's before a tip, the Journal
"There's a real need
for people," said Wally Herman, a Hospitality
Center board member. "By giving them a meal,
clothes or a haircut, it helps them have a little money
to pay for electricity . or feel confident when applying
to a job."
Adrian Ortega, 40, became
homeless over the summer after the hotel he worked at
closed. At a recent job interview, Ortega said he
started feeling anxious as he worried about how he
looked, and those nerves might have been the reason he
didn't get hired.
"I know I could have
had that job," Ortega said. "I was more
nervous than anything, mainly over my appearance . when
you're homeless, you don't have that much time to think
about how you look."
By not paying for a
haircut or buying his own razor, Wallace Wiggs — who
got his hair cut by local barber Armando Gollaz, who
works at Studio4C's Barbershop, 1859 Taylor Ave. —
said that he'll be able to cover some of his bills more
Gollaz said that he'll
sometimes not charge his clients for haircuts, just to
see their surprised reactions.
For the last year, he's
been volunteering with the Hospitality Center and has
time to cut about 10 heads during the monthly four-hour
Sometimes there have been
as many as four barbers volunteering each month. In
June, Gollaz was there alone.
a haircut," he said. "A lot of people have
this skill (barbering). You're not supposed to use
skills to benefit yourself, but for others."
He worked alongside
Mervin Estrada, the owner of Milwaukee's Razor Sharp
Barber Shop and the official barber of the Milwaukee
"I just want to make
people look good," Estrada said. "I like to do
this to give back."
The Andis Foundation —
the charity arm of Sturtevant-based Andis Co., which
builds salon equipment — donates the supplies that the
volunteer barbers use. Andis also partners with the
Milwaukee Bucks for Barbershop Mondays, which offered
six sessions of free haircuts for young men in Racine
Andis has been helping
out at the Hospitality Center since the beginning of
"We strongly believe
we are only as strong as our community," said Laura
Bishop, co-president of Andis Co. and president of the
Andis Foundation. "This is something that's
actually in the community."
"We hope, by Andis
doing this," Raymond said, "it will encourage
other corporations to invest in their local