My name is Joshua Santiago. I’m 28 years old and I am a barber from North Philadelphia that provides free haircuts for the homeless. I am a father first and foremost, I drive Uber to support my family, and I chase my dreams of cutting the hair of the homeless and providing resources all across the country as well. I grew up in a family that either sold drugs, did drugs, or both. I have turned my life around the last few years when I realized I wanted to change my trajectory. Both my parents are addicts and my mother has been homeless my whole life because of her life choices so this is something that is near and dear to me. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a reason why they are where they are. It’s not about excuses, it’s about humanizing the homeless to me. I could’ve been there. All of us could be there with just one or two bad choices. A lot of these people didn’t have strong homes that were filled with love, like myself. You can’t do better unless you know better and how can you know better if you aren’t shown better? I was basically raised by the streets so I made certain choices because I didn’t know any better. But when I did find better, I took the opportunity and ran with it, which brings me here. When I turned my life around I decided to go to barber school. My instructor took us to a church so we can cut hair for the homeless and it would help us hone our skills and the very first time I did that I figured out my purpose. My organization is called “Empowering Cuts”. I have been working at this for over 3 years now.
I’m holding a 24 Hour Fundraiser for the homeless that will consist of free haircuts, food, resources, HIV testing, & a live performance. The goal behind this fundraiser is to raise enough funds so we can turn a camper that I purchased three months ago into a mobile barbershop so we can continue blessing these individuals regardless of the weather. The fundraiser will be held at Kensington and Allegheny from Noon to Noon.
I do this literally for free and everything comes out of my own dime for the most part including traveling all over the country doing what I love to do which is engage with the homeless community everywhere I go.
I really appreciate you for even taking the time to read this, THANK YOU!