By Laura Duncanson
Being a barber is about taking care of people and this barber in Iowa takes this quote to a whole other level. The small town of Dubuque, Iowa has been receiving a lot of media attention recently as local barber Courtney Holmes has given a whole new meaning to getting a haircut. He has been giving haircuts to local kids in exchange for them reading him a book.
Courtney Holmes is a 45 year old barber who recently moved from Chicago with his wife Sarah and two sons Jackson and Josiah. Upon moving to Dubuque, he joined the Black Man Coalition, which is a nonprofit organization that helps inner city African American youths prepare for college, jobs and life by giving them a sense of empowerment. Because of his busy schedule, he said he was not able to be as active in the group as he would have liked but told the coordinator of the group if there was anything he could do such as give out free haircuts please let him know. And who would have thought that tiny suggestion would have caused such a tremendous effect.
At the local Annual Back to School Bash where the Dubuque Black Men Coalition was volunteering, they had Mr. Holmes set up between 12 and 4 to give haircuts to the local kids in exchange for reading books. He told The Good News Notebook that he was so surprised about the response of the event; children from kindergarten all the way up to the middle school, read books from a nearby stall as well as the few he brought from home which he would read nightly to his own sons. He gave out 10-15 haircuts during that 4 hour period and had to give out his business card to the other children eagerly waiting to take him up on this offer. “The kids were so excited and had a lot of energy…everyone was motivating and encouraging each other to read…if any of the kids started having difficulty reading, I’d help them out as well” was one of the few things that excited Mr. Holmes about the whole experience.
Since the event there have been a lot of people donating books, backpacks and shirts to the movement. The owner of the salon he works at, Amanda Troutman, has also joined in by approving haircuts for reading in house on a monthly basis. He hopes his act is an encouragement to others and goes to nearby cities and countries at large. In the school system, there are kids that read below their grade level and this could be a way to help tackle this issue. He sais that it’s important to help the kids and help the parents.
He gives glory to God and is humbled just to be a willing servant to do His work. He wants our GNN readers to know whatever you do, do it from your heart. Just one kind gesture can have such a big response. His experience with this event personally, ‘felt like throwing a pebble in the pond to cause a big ripple.’ Thank you Mr. Holmes for being that pebble and we look forward to others taking the initiative as well.