(WSVN) - At one point, he was homeless. Now he is going back out to talk to the people who shared the streets, to give them hope, help and something they seldom get. As Patrick Fraser tells us, it’s why the homeless call him “The Backpack Barber.”
He once walked this sidewalk as a homeless man.
Greg Young, The Backpack Barber: “My friends had given up on me, my employers. The little bit of family that I did have, they’d given up on me.”
Today Greg walks the same path as the Backpack Barber.
Greg Young: “So it’s like a haircut can change a lot in somebody.”
Bernard McDonald, first haircut in six months: “I feel better already.”
Once a week, Greg sets up his tent and gives haircuts and shaves to the homeless.
Bernard McDonald: “Last time I got a haircut was maybe six months ago.”
It’s just a haircut, unless you’re homeless and broke.
A simple thing, that can mean so much.
Bernard McDonald: “A lot of people on the streets can’t afford haircuts.”
Greg survived the streets, kicked his alcohol and cocaine addictions, and became a successful businessman, opening his own barber shop in Fort Lauderdale.
But he wanted to do more than make money.
Greg Young: “I would hit the streets at night, waking guys up, giving them a haircut, just talking with them.”
The response was enormous, so he created the Backpack Barber Foundation to help the people still on the street.
Greg Young: “I got six and a half years of sobriety, so I can identify with what you’re talking about.”
Greg says the haircuts make the men feel better and look better. It gives them something else they need.
Greg Young: “A lot of people don’t get it, man. You can’t have hope for you out there. There’s no hope in the streets.”
Homeless man (singing): “Everything you love starts to disappear. The devil takes your hand and says, ‘No fear.'”
Greg Young: “My goal with the foundation is to try to help uplift guys from that state of mind that they’re in.”
Ariel Rivera, very thankful: “I feel more like a human. I was dumped out here, and now someone, a stranger, reaches out and says, ‘You’re worth something.'”
Greg Young: “I’ve had a couple of guys that just bawl out crying because they haven’t been touched or looked at in several years.”
Guys who have been targeted, beaten and ridiculed can finally open up to a man who used to walk the same path.
Greg Young: “I know what they’re going through with their experience, and I’m not judging them, so when I go out there, the wall comes down a little bit more easier for guys.”
Greg understands the little things the homeless need. It’s why he hands each one this bag.
Greg Young: “You know, just soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, socks.”
The response has Greg looking for a way to expand The Backpack Barber to other cities across Florida.
Greg Young: “On how we can benefit more people, help more people, and eventually we want to open up more chapters throughout Florida.”
In the meantime, he knows a simple haircut can change someone’s day.
Andrew Fern, now looking for work: “I feel a lot better today now. Now I can go out there and get another job.”
Andrew Fern (to Greg): “Thank you, my friend. Thank you so much.”
What a nice thing to do, Greg.
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