Licensed barbers and hairstylists are finding a new way to give back to the community by serving as mentors for young black men in the community. Through programs like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, mentors are giving young black men hope for achievement and success in their own lives. Mentors are showing these young men that they can achieve anything they put their mind to with hard work and dedication.
In the case of Arlanders Cole, he is finding that mentoring has provided him with a way to turn his own harsh life lessons into life lessons for young graduates from barbering school. Cole has owned two barber shops in his lifetime and is an entrepreneur in Clarion, Iowa. Cole has used his own setbacks in life to show others that they do not have to resort to violence in order to make their dreams come alive. The barber had earned a football scholarship to Coahoma Community College and earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice. He received an offer to play with the Atlanta Falcons, but this offer was lost after he got into trouble and was shot in his legs during his last year. Cole went to prison, but he decided that he would not let the experience defeat him for life.
After prison, Cole decided to turn his talent of cutting hair into a business opportunity by opening his own barbershop. In his shop, Lan Lan’s Barbershop, Cole freely talks about the drive and determination to succeed that has allowed him to prosper in the city. He uses his own optimistic story to show other young black men in the community that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to in life. Cole also has a new goal of opening up his own barbering school for young men and women within the next decade.
Others like Cole are using barbering as an opportunity to teach young people about the value of goal-setting and staying out of harm’s way. In the Big Brothers program, barber shop owners and hair stylists have gathered to host weekly events that teach young people about the trade of barbering. Young boys can have their own hair cut and learn more about the profession. In the Big Brothers program, established business men in the community share their own stories of failures in order to educate young people about the value of staying true to family, following the law and respecting authority figures. The goal of the program is to provide them with the chance to learn a trade that they may decide to pursue before or after attending college. The mentors understand that barbering school is a more affordable option for many of the young men than a traditional four-year degree program, and they want to open this door for young men in the community to start lifelong, sustainable, fulfilling careers.
Barbering mentors are truly changing the lives of young black men in communities throughout the United States. Barbers are having a positive impact on the community by generously donating their time to mentoring young men.