LAUREL – Personal grooming can become costly, especially when individuals who are living below the federal poverty line are already struggling to meet their basic needs. And although proper personal hygiene is important, it is easy to understand why homeless people with little or no financial resources can fall short. Robert W. Cradle, managing director of […]
LAUREL – Personal grooming can become costly, especially when individuals who are living below the federal poverty line are already struggling to meet their basic needs. And although proper personal hygiene is important, it is easy to understand why homeless people with little or no financial resources can fall short.
Robert W. Cradle, managing director of Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation (RBCF), took notice that disadvantaged youth and adults who utilize residential, transitional and emergency housing facilities could use a little help to maintain a neat and clean appearance. So, in 2000, the Anne Arundel County resident who has a background in barbering founded a unique nonprofit which fills a noticeable void and helps others in need to build their self-confidence.
“What we do is we operate projects that provide no-charge grooming services for populations who lack access to regular grooming and hygiene,” Cradle said. “We cover haircuts, hairstyles, chemical services, shampoos and anything that we can and would receive in a barber and beauty shop.”
The Woodland Grooming Project will be a full-service, unisex barbershop and beauty shop for residential students at Woodland Job Corps Center, a no-cost educational and career technical training program located at 3300 Fort Meade Road in Laurel. Cradle said he was contacted through RBCF’s website about grooming challenges of residential students. And now, after Cradle gathered more information, visited in-person, then discussed the prospect of funding the project with board members, RBCF’s first full-scale grooming project in Prince George’s County is underway and expected to open in the next few months.
Although online pledges will help cover the cost of the forthcoming facility, Cradle said RBCF’s board decided to fund the project themselves. Cradle estimated the project, which will include installation of multipurpose chairs, a salon hair dryer, shampoo bowls, stations, and fixtures for clippers and supplies, should be completed by springtime. RBCF has previously completed similar projects in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Despite spreading goodwill in communities for many years, Cradle said he still feels a sense of excitement when a new project is established.
“There’s always a sense of accomplishment afterwards, but the main thing is it makes me feel really useful when I’m able to create a space that becomes functional for a group that may not have access to grooming and hygiene (services).”
The completed project at Woodland Job Corps Center is expected to help students who live on the campus to prepare for job interviews, in addition to maintaining their appearance. Professional barbers and hair stylists who are willing to give back to the community will provide free grooming services. However, Cradle hopes residential students who have grooming skills will be permitted to have access to the equipment and help to keep each other groomed.
Joann R. Price, the current chairman of RBCF, explained some of the inner workings of the nonprofit. Among her many duties, she is responsible for board governance, reviewing strategic plans, reviewing project and grant proposals and providing financial support to the foundation.
“There are currently five board members who in various amounts financially support RBCF on a regular basis. Each individual board member has a fund. All contributions are placed in their individual fund account,” Price said. “Normally one or two board members are asked to support a project. The funds to underwrite the Woodland Grooming Project will come from one or more of the board member’s funds.”
Price also said providing financial assistance for projects is a part of the responsibilities of board members. According to Price, providing financial support is necessary since they solicit funds in good faith on behalf of RBCF from other sources. As the project in Laurel moves forward in phases, the long-term impact will be measurable.
“The project at the Woodland Job Corps Center will benefit the more than 300 students, both male and female, when we provide the equipment to set up a hair salon within the training center,” Price said. “This shop will enable the students to keep themselves groomed and will be available 24 hours.
“Forms will be available for the reporting requirements and the center will obtain volunteers who will be available to provide no-cost grooming services. The salon indeed will benefit the students-residents in that instead of using part of their monthly stipends for hair care, they will be able to groom their hair in the shop. Additionally, my theory is that when you look good, you feel good and you do good.”
To learn more about RBCF, visit www.therbcf.com.