SAN JOSE (KPIX) – Three teenagers put their heads together to serve the homeless during the pandemic.
Jash Gada, Vincent Su and Eddie Wang set up a weekly barbershop at Grace Baptist Church, in San Jose. They serve the dozens of people who stay at the church shelter or come for a free shower or food.
“Haircutting started as a passion for me,” Su said.
He explained that the teens have been cutting their friends’ and family’s hair for fun the past few years.
Then, when barbershops closed during the coronavirus shelter-in-place, the trio put a new twist on their hobby.
“I kind of saw this as an opportunity to use a skill I needed to give back,” Su said.
The Lynbrook High School seniors established Bay Cuts, a free traveling barber service. The trio has given away about 50 haircuts to men and women at Grace Baptist, since May.
Eddie Wang said talking with the clients has also snipped away at their own stereotypes of the homeless.
“They’re just like us,” he said. “They’re just normal people that had some unfortunate events happen to them. They could be a distant uncle or just our neighbors.”
Shelter case manager Sachin Radhakrishnan is inspired by the young barbers.
“I kept telling them, ‘I wish I was that mature at your age,'” he said.
Jash Gada said everyone feels a buzz of excitement when they’re done.
“It’s like a feeling of warmth that you feel when you finish giving them the haircut. You see them smile and they feel confident,” Gada said.
Take Bernadette Ortiz, who has come to Bay Cuts a few times.
“It makes me feel good inside. Inside and outside,” said Ortiz.
And Tim, who didn’t want to use his last name, whose partner got a mohawk.
“I feel great, feel motivated,” said Tim.
That confidence can be life-changing.
“One time there was a guy who had a job interview the next day so he was really excited about that,” said Gada.
Radhakrishnan added, “They just see the fresh haircut, but I’m seeing the fresh outlook on life.”
So, for giving free confidence-inspiring haircuts to the homeless, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Vincent Su, Eddie Wang and Jash Gada.
Note: Bay Cuts would like to expand to other shelters in the Bay Area. It needs more volunteers, especially those who can cut women’s hair.