FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - Greg Young had some difficult years living on and off the streets in South Florida until he got his life on track.
Now a barbershop owner in Fort Lauderdale, he's taking his skills to the street, helping out the homeless as the Backpack Barber.
The mission is simple, it starts with a conversation and a haircut. Young understands the impact that act can have.
"Normally we go out and we cut hair for the homeless. We provide interaction and conversation that some of them haven't had in quite some time. It's about instilling hope and dignity," he said.
Young knows what it's like to be homeless and hopeless. Fighting addiction to drugs and alcohol, he was sleeping in laundry mats and abandoned buildings around South Florida. In 2013 he joined an AA meeting and started a new chapter. Now he sets out to help others.
"I have seven years sobriety. I try to share with them the hope of them going to the organizations that we are working with, that they can come off the streets," he said
Young has been cutting hair in Fort Lauderdale for the past decade, building a following. With hard work and sobriety, he opened Noblemen's Cut and Shave on NW 1st Avenue.
Now successful, and grateful, his purpose became clear two years ago - to give back.
"I founded the Backpack Barber Foundation. We provide haircuts, hygiene bags, toiletries, and a conversation. Right now, I'm not able to get out in the community to cut hair (due to COVID-19) as I want to protect myself, my family, and my clients. We are trying to create more support for them through our organization," he said.
The organization has drawn support, like a recent donation from the Pompano Beach Golf League, which Young sees as more than just monetary help.
"It means a lot because they see the work that we are trying to do to make an impact, and with the support and help from those in the community, it makes a big difference. It's not a 'me' thing or a 'we' thing, it's an 'us' thing," he said.
At 36, the father of two says the mission is about respect and showing kindness for your fellow man.
"It's showing positive vibes and spreading love. It's a thing I believe in."
To help out, you can go on Amazon.com and order items to be shipped straight to the shop, or you can drop off items at the shop or simply make a donation by visiting their website at backbackbarberfoundation.org.
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