Jefferson Award Winner Founded Haircuts With HeartBy Sharon Chin

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) Armed with a pair of scissors and a smile, East Bay hair stylist Rebecca Beardsley has found her own way of sharing compassion with others.

It all started when Beardsley realized she was passing more and more homeless people on the streets. So two years ago she founded Haircuts With Heart. The two-year-old non-profit has given free haircuts, beard trims, manicures, and even make-up applications to more than 1000 underserved Bay Area folks, including homeless people.

On a recent day she welcomed homeless veterans in Operation Dignity’s transitional program at Alameda Point.

“It was like a light switch went off,” recalled Beardsley. “I said, ‘I can’t not do something.'”

Veteran Robert Gusman says the haircut he received is a welcomed opportunity.

“Feel great, walk in feeling not 100% or not quite 100%,” explained Gusman. “And walk out feeling 150%.”

Beardsley, who has her own Oakland studio, has rounded up local stylists to volunteer. The haircuts would normally cost about $65 each. This year Haircuts With Heart has partnered with other non-profits to put on about two dozen events. Supplies like hair gel and spray have been donated by local salons, private individuals, and even restaurants.

Operation Dignity‘s Executive Director, Marguerite Bachand called Beardsley “exceptional,” while noting her volunteer work has transformed the veterans’ self-esteem.

“A lot of them are going out there trying to interview for housing or for jobs,” explained Bachand. “So presentation, we work with them on that, and this gives them a boost.”

Beardsley, a San Francisco native, and former national educator for the L’Oréal Company, says she has learned something about the beauty of giving.

“If we each did just one thing that we were good at and shared that, the world would be a better place,” said Beardsley. “And it can be a better place.”

Most of the “Haircuts With Heart’ events have been in Alameda and San Francisco counties. But Beardsley says she would like to expand to other parts of the Bay Area. She also credits Haircut With Heart’s board as being an important part of the organization’s success.