Mark Bustos spends every Sunday giving the homeless people of New York City the best tools to succeed he can with free haircuts. He approaches anyone who would benefit from a quality trim with these words: “I want to do something nice for you today.” On this, his only day off from the professional salon he works at six days a week, Mark blesses up to six people with a salon-quality haircut.
Ever since a trip to the Philippines in 2012, Mark has been offering free haircuts to the less fortunate in more than just New York City. That trip to the Philippines had him paying a local barber shop to rent a space, which allowed him to help poverty-stricken children with a new look. Since then, Mark has helped individuals in Costa Rica, Los Angeles, and even Jamaica. He tells The Huffington Post, “The feeling was so rewarding, I decided to bring the positive energy back to NYC.” And bring it back he did.
One of the most inspiring moments Mark has encountered happened one Sunday with a client named Jemar Banks (pictured below). “I’ll never forget the name,” Bustos was quoted as saying. Unlike many others, this man had little to say during the whole process. Offered food and conversation, he remained quiet. When shown his new haircut, he responded, “Do you know anyone that’s hiring?” Just one simple act can help these individuals feel they have the strength to push harder and possibly step out of poverty.
Bustos generally spends his Sunday afternoons cutting hair with his girlfriend, who takes some time to ask the homeless if they would like anything to eat. “One response we've gotten is, 'Nobody ever asks me what I actually want. I usually just get leftovers and scraps.’” Sometimes just the act of asking can give that person the encouragement they need.
Grateful for this small act of kindness, the impoverished individuals pictured are left with lifted spirits thanks to the time that Mark Bustos gives every week to the community. “Even a simple smile can go a long way,” Bustos said of his tradition of cutting hair in public spaces. He hopes to encourage others to step out and help those in need by publicly showing just how much a haircut can do.