Free hair cuts at Springfield Soup Kitchen shut down by state

A man volunteering to give free haircuts to the homeless at the Springfield Soup Kitchen has been told by the state he has to stop.

Tony Jones, of Springfield, said he went to barber school in Dayton and studied hundreds of hours, but hasn’t gotten his license because of costs.

“God blessed me with the talent to be able to cut hair and I just wanted to give back,” Jones said.

So he called Fred Stegner, director of the Springfield Soup Kitchen, 830 W. Main St., to ask if he could cut the hair of those in need for free.

Jones donated his talents and cut the hair of about a dozen soup kitchen patrons in December.

“To see the smile that it gives a man, a woman or a child after they’re done is priceless,” he said.

The volunteer planned to come back in February for another round of the charity cuts but a state board said he must stop.

The Ohio State Board of Barbers called Stegner on Thursday to tell him the work cannot go on because the volunteer isn’t a licensed barber and the kitchen isn’t a licensed barber shop, Stegner said.

The board monitor’s barber shops across the state. Interim Director Ed Highly urged Stegner to cancel the free hair cut session at the soup kitchen.

“We’re not trying to be heavy handed, we’re not trying to be the bad guy in the situation, I just want to make sure that the public is protected,” Highly said.

Sanitation is a main concern of the operation, Highly said.

“I didn’t want someone coming into the soup kitchen to have an injury or to you know pick up some kind of a skin disease,” Highly said.

Jones understand the regulations, but said he doesn’t believe the board should block his charity work.

“I do respect the Ohio State Barber Board as far as the license but this isn’t hurting anyone — this is helping,” Jones said.

All the tools Jones used at the soup kitchen for the cuts he sanitized in between clients, he said, like any licensed barber would do.

The barber board director suggested Stegner should find a licensed shop with a licensed barber to do the work.

“It’s just rules and regulations that have gone awry,” Stegner said. “It seems like road blocks are just thrown up every time we try something to help people.”

A new salon is Springfield, Xpertease, is temporarily offering to do the haircuts at its facility as the Springfield Soup Kitchen works through the road bump, Stegner said.

Jones will continue to volunteer serving at the soup kitchen in other roles, he said, but he hopes the board changes its mind.

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