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NEWS: Big-hearted barber gives back (July 2020)

August 7th, 2020 · No Comments

Jack Shewahy provides free haircuts &?a meal to homeless

The Barber House at 791 Bathurst St. has reopened and welcomes back clients. TANYA IELYSEIEVA/GLEANER NEWS

This feature was created pre-COVID closures. We waited to publish it until the Barber House has re-opened. It’s helpful to remember that before the pandemic many front-line professionals, like Jack Shewahy, could also be credited with giving back to their commuities. Now they are open again for business, practicising safe protocols, and still trying to be a “good example for people”. 

By Tanya Ielyseieva

Jack Shewahy believes that every man deserves to feel like a gentleman. His shop, The Barber House at 791 Bathurst Street specializes in traditional Turkish techniques including hot towel shaves.

When Shewahy, who has worked as a barber in the UK, Turkey and New York City, says “everyone,” he means it. Prior to being shut down, Shewahy and his employees started giving free hair trims to anyone in need, and offered a hot meal and clean clothes on top of that.

“I’m not just working to earn money. I want to be a good example for people in the area,” said Shewahy in a pre-Covid interview. “I don’t mind giving free haircuts and a hot meal to four or five people a day if they can’t afford it.”

Shewahy added that his father, who also happens to be his barbering mentor, was the reason he started helping people. Together they used to go to the families in need to give money to people who weren’t fortunate enough and had to struggle over money issues. 

“My father used to go to the houses very early in the morning, like 3 or 4 a.m., so people won’t see him, and drop vegetables, fruits and envelopes with money on their porch. And here, in my barbershop I want to do the same thing,” Shewahy said.

Shewahy opened the Barber House in 2018 but prior to that he used to give free haircuts at the shelters once a month and every Christmas. 

Now Shewahy helps people in The Barber House.

“When you get a fresh haircut and fill your stomach with delicious food you boost your confidence to a higher level and it gives you a hope that you can change your life,” Shewahy said.

“I let people know that it is nice to give something back, not just working and earning money. I want to be a good example for people in the area. I don’t do it for anything I do it from my heart for the people,” Shewahy said. 

“I keep my door and my heart open for everybody. Some people don’t have houses, some people don’t have jobs, some people just got in a bad situation. Everybody has a different story but what they have in common is the need to figure out the way to overcome the obstacles. People are looking for a better life and our main goal here is to support them.”

Besides Shewahy there are four more barbers at his barber shop who share his views and passion to help the community.

Peter Ndiaye is one of the barbers. When he is on the subway, bus or any community transport he gives a Barber House card to people in need and offers a free haircut. 

“I think it is a great initiative and I really like this place because of all the help we can offer to people,” he said.

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