Volunteer barbers and hair stylists provided the kids a Fresh Start for the new school year

By William K. Alcorn



More than 500 Youngstown City Schools students, their parents and teachers received free haircuts and hairstyles Sunday at East High School – just in time for the first day of school Tuesday – at an event aptly named Fresh Start.

Sponsored by City Kids Care, Youngstown schools, the BRIDGE Barber Program, the Red Zone and numerous individuals including Charles Colvin, Keland Logan, Youngstown Councilman Julius Oliver and others, the sixth annual Fresh Start left students checking out their new looks and their parents thankful for the savings the program meant to them.

“It definitely made my kids feel good about themselves,” Joseph Solomon said about his sons, Joseph Jr., 5, and Josiah, 4.

It’s also a good program for the community because a lot of people can’t afford haircuts that run $10 to $15 for children and $20 to $25 for adults, Solomon said.

“When I heard about Fresh Start, I made sure I was ready to come to East High School today,” Solomon said.

Among the volunteer beauticians and barbers providing the haircuts and hairstyles were about 20 students from the Raphael’s School of Beauty Culture, said its director, Manuel Dubose, a 1997 graduate of The Rayen School.

Other organizations with volunteers at the event were Excalibur Barber Grooming Lounge, Imagination Hair and Nail Salon, Step It Up Cuts Barbershop, Daniel Lopez and Upper Class Cutz.

Twon Ahart, president of City Kids Care, and Brandon Perry, founder of the organization, said the satisfaction they get from helping people is the main reason they keep the event going.

“I feel like I grew up in Youngstown less fortunate, and now that I’m in a position to help kids out, why not do it?” said Ahart, who praised Perry as “one of the most humble people” he knows.

Perry, a sergeant with 14 years in the Army who was deployed to Iraq for 15 months in 2007 and 2008, travels often from Fort Thomas, Ky., where he is stationed, to participate in community organizations such as City Kids Care.

Fresh Start is a benefit for the kids and the community, said Arisha Williams, a volunteer.

It gives adults and children a chance to experience community and wraps up the summer at the same time, Williams said.

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