A quote by John F. Kennedy says “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” Joshua Santiago, founder of Empowering Cuts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a man who is making a difference by creating a world where “every human being has the same opportunity.” Joshua graciously shared some of his time to talk about the incredible Empowering Cuts.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi
Joshua was a troubled youth. Surrounded by addiction and feeling neglected, he acted out, got in trouble and became incarcerated. When Joshua was 24 he worked hard to turn things around and is so glad he did. Joshua enrolled in barbering school, something that he had always been interested in since he was a kid. It was during his classes at barbering school that his teacher, Mr. Howard took the class to a shelter to learn how to cut hair and to give back. That was a transformational moment for Joshua and fell in love with giving free haircuts to men who otherwise could not afford it. This experience ignited a passion within Joshua to help people who are homeless, military veterans, children and families by providing them with free haircuts. Something that would help them feel refreshed and alive. An article from The-Pool.com states “a new haircut can improve your self-esteem. While confidence and self-esteem often go hand-in-hand, and those are undoubtedly similar, your self-esteem is an essential part of your everyday life that you cannot ignore. Getting a new haircut from a good barber could help you to gain a better image of yourself, and as a result, you may even see yourself in a better light.” What seems so simple can change so much.
“You are bold. You are an agent of change. Embrace what makes you unique and trust your voice. You are here to usher in a new age. That’s why you see things differently than most.” Unknown
Since 2017 Joshua has given over 8000 free haircuts. He loves the conversation and connection he has with each person he comes in contact with. When he sets up shop to give haircuts he has been helped by people who are homeless and has seen the fire it lights within them, giving them hope of a better future. Because Joshua is aware that homelessness is everywhere in 2020 he was able to raise money to renovate an RV he had bought that became a mobile site for all things hair, traveling around the country to cut hair. Joshua knows the platform he built on social media is one that people believe in and are willing to support. When he seeks support for others, people are generous with donating money to help. He has much gratitude to everyone and feels strongly that the world has his back.
“Ah kindness. What a simple way to tell another struggling soul there is love to be found in the world.” A.A. Malee
Joshua, a father of three children, whose heart is filled with love, wanted to show kindness and blessings to others that was separate from cutting hair so he began “7 random acts of kindness in 7 days.” For seven days Joshua will approach people and ask what they need without giving money or a haircut. What people consistently want is a conversation. They want someone to talk to. Joshua happily engages in conversation while taking people out for a meal, buying them new sneakers, and connecting some with their families. In giving Joshua has experienced the power of caring in the relationships be builds with everyone he meets, getting so much back from others.
“I want you to know that someone out there cares. You are not alone.” Unknown
Joshua treasures the relationships he is building. He can’t ever see himself doing anything else. He bears witness the change that occurs in people after a haircut. Joshua will help connect people with support, services, and has helped some reunite with their families. At times he hears back from people whose hair he cut. People who now have jobs, homes, families, and a completely different life. As he pays it forward he experiences others paying it forward, creating a circle of love that touches many lives. Giving haircuts is fun for Joshua. Beyond spending time with his kids Joshua’s happy place is during the conversation while cutting hair. These moments build his energy and make him want to do more for others.
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Nelson Mandela
Recently Joshua, with donations from his social media platform, helped a teenager whose parents had died and had been homeless, quickly raising money to help. When he is out with his kids they know their dad helps others and will point out people for him to help and offer assistance to. His children notice people who seem invisible to others. In talking with Joshua he became emotional from these experiences. His appreciation is great for the relationships he has built He values the people on his social media platform will step up to help others. His gratitude is great for his community, Mr. Howard and his mom and dad. While his childhood was not easy, Joshua knows it was part of shaping him to the man he is now.
With honor and gratitude we shine our Kindness Champion spotlight on Joshua Santiago, founder of Empowering Cuts. Thank you for being you and bringing your awesome to the world.
To learn more about the remarkable Empowering Cuts here is their information:
Youtube: Empowering Cuts