Last Friday I volunteered to cut hair at Haircuts from the Heart at the Franciscan Center in Over the Rhine. ("OTR" has been dubbed "the most dangerous neighborhood in the country." The small salon provides haircuts to the very poor and homeless. The day we went, there was a special event honoring veterans. Clients didn't have to be a veteran to get a haircut, they just had to walk in (and register at the desk.) Normally the cost of a hair cut is $2 or a bag of crushed aluminum cans; but last Friday, all haircuts were free. (There was also free lunch provided by Lee's Chicken.) At the same event last year, Haircuts from the Heart gave close to one hundred haircuts in five hours.
I'm not sure how many cuts I did. Eight? Nine? I know that the four of us students did a total of fifty cuts between 9:30 and 2:00. And I did more shampoo's than cuts.This mission is run by one Sister Bonnie -- a tough cookie who is genuinely full of grace. Her mantra is speed, speed, speed. She wants 'em in and out. Quite different from school where it's all about client service, consultation, creativity and precision. Sister Bonnie wants it done right, and done FAST.
It was a transforming experience for everyone involved. Both practically and spiritually. The salon is small, with only two chairs, but we pulled in a couple more for the event. It was crowded, but so happy. These guys were so happy and pumped to get their hair cut and washed, to have us talking to them like salon clients. And, like anyone getting a much needed hair cut, they left feeling great.
In a down moment, I asked Sister Bonnie if she was a cosmetologist or a nun first. She told me that she had been a nurse (and a nun) for years and years before she heard the reading from the Bible "before you pray, wash your face and comb your hair;" which was the inspiration for her mission. As we're talking, she pulls her iPhone out of her pocket and starts checking her email. I said "Wow, you're a cosmetologist nun with an iPhone! That is awesome." She is, truly awesome.