A Simple Haircut Can Change Your World 

IBC Owners, Billy Gaines (l) and Bobby Berry.

By:  Cyrondys Jackson 

 

(Center Point, AL)- “A simple hair cut can change your world,” at least that’s the perspective of Cassidy Bonner, a volunteer with The Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham. Every other Tuesday, Cassidy drives a van with men who are looking forward to their trip to the barber shop. Cassidy has volunteered with The Greater Birmingham Area Command for 10 years, serving with Angel Tree, Emergency Disaster Services, and on special projects. But, for the last two years, Cassidy has found his most meaningful place- enjoying “shop talk” with the guys engaged in programs at The Center of Hope, while they receive free barbering services at International Barber School. 

  “The ride over is pretty quiet and not a lot of talking, but once we get here and the guys are getting their haircuts-they just come alive,” Bonner said. Barbering students donate their skills and small talk by cutting, trimming, shaving, and lining up the guys, while still providing services to their paid customers. “The self-esteem is like through the roof. It’s like a whole new set of guys. They would joke about calling Beyonce’ up for a date,” Bonner said.  

 The International Barber School is owned and operated by friends and business partners, Billy Gaines and Bobby Berry. Both licensed barbers and instructors, who have worked together since 2008, the men are teaching the next generation of professional barbers at their school off Center Point Parkway. “We are passing talent and knowledge on to our students, but we are also sharing what God has given to us,” said Bobby Berry. 

About eight years ago, IBS began offering free haircut and barbering services to the men at The Salvation Army. Every two weeks, men patiently wait for the van to pull up and for the transformation to begin. “We are providing a service, teaching and making a connection,” said Billy Gaines. “Barbering is the skill I’ve been blessed with. The gift has been so great it feels like I didn’t even have to pray for it.” 

 Both men say they work to not only instruct their students about the business of barbering but leave them with a desire to give back to the community as well. Gaines and Berry say they also use the visits as a time to minister to and encourage the men to return as students of International Barber School- completing the circle and paying it forward.