Humanizing the Homeless
While most of his friends are off watching Paw Patrol, 5-year-old Jaivian would much rather watch videos about how to give a sharp haircut. That's because Jaivian’s dad is Joshua Santiago, a North Philly native who, since 2015, has been giving free haircuts to people experiencing homelessness through his nonprofit, Empowering Cuts.
Santiago began taking trips to Kensington in 2017, equipped with extension cords that he would attach to his car in order to plug in his clippers. He started approaching people on the street, offering to cut their hair. The response? Overwhelmingly positive.
In between working paid jobs like driving for rideshare companies, he estimates that he’s given around 8,000 cuts. No matter where he goes to provide haircuts, “it’s [always] hugs, tears and a million thank yous,” Santiago says. He believes that the confidence someone derives from a haircut is noticeable, especially when they haven’t had one for a long time; but the deeper impact, he says, comes from another person taking the time to interact and care for them.
Note: The above descriptive information came from the Philadelphia Citizen article below.
In The News
- Citizen of the Week: Joshua Santiago, Philadelphia Citizen, July 19, 2021.