Brennon Jones has been providing a free service to the homeless of Philadelphia so often that he’s lost count or how many he’s helped. Jones offers haircuts for homeless people, and says that he lost count after a thousand haircuts that’s part of his Haircuts for Homeless campaign. Jones had been setting up shop at a street corner in Philadelphia that also provided essential items such as food and clothing, but he didn’t have an indoor facility to use.
Now that’s changed and it’s thanks to a donation from Sean Johnson. Johnson saw Jones at work, and said “When I found out, well, I need to be part of that. I need to see what I can do to help.” Johnson had once been in tough situations and found himself in jail, but has become an owner of a successful barbershop known as Taper’s. Johnson expanded his business, but decided to give the new building away to Jones, instead.
When Johnson approached Jones, Johnson said “‘Listen, I’ve got a building I want you to come check out.’ He said, ‘Do you like this place?’ I said ‘Yeah, I like it.’ He tossed me the keys and said ‘It’s yours,’” Brennon said. Johnson said that that while incarcerated, “I went to school and learned how to cut hair. My mother paid for my license and I’m not gonna let my mom down.”
Johnson said that “It wasn’t about me giving a barbershop, when you look at the homeless and the things that they need, I looked at it as more. I built something and I want to see it keep going and I want to see it do a great thing.” That great thing means that the winter won’t affect his operation, so Jones can keep his operation going year-round. “I just continue to rely on my faith,” Jones said. “God brought me this far. I know he’s not gonna leave me now.”
So far, Jones has traveled across the eastern part of the United States in what he calls his Cutz of Compassion tour. He’s been to many major cities to offer the free haircuts, saying “It’s my personal way of giving back. I’ve got a gift like any other barber. I just wanted to use it differently.” Jones started because he says “I saw a homeless person when I was on my way to work. I gave him a couple of dollars and went about my way.”
He continues, “But I felt guilt, like I could’ve done more. So I decided, ‘When the weather breaks I’m going to cut somebody’s hair.’ The following week – like a Monday or Tuesday, it was extremely warm to be January – so I went out that day and cut somebody’s hair at 15th and Walnut.” Jones had been working as a barber beforehand, so he has plenty of experience to offer up.
Johnson said that he’s had the space for two years, and that it was completely furnished, and hopes that being the location of a haircut service for homeless people will allow his “vision to keep going and to see (Jones’s) vision keep going. Hopefully, he can make it bigger than what it is.”
Jones had actually never planned to move his operation indoors, saying that “If it was up to me, I would be outside, but I can’t. It’s cold.” He added “The good part about this is I can do more. I can feed them here, provide them with information because it’s an actual building. My plan is to link with the shelters all throughout the city and find partners that will provide transportation.”
Johnson is ready to see the new operation at work. “Having (Jones) up here and giving him this opportunity, it just felt like an awesome idea. Getting your own business is hard enough, but in talking to him, I know he has his head on straight. It’ll be really awesome to see his progress.” The hope is that providing the services helps those in need to get a confidence boost that they need while also looking more presentable for potential employers. Now with a permanent place to operate, Jones will be able to reach more people to help those across Philadelphia.