February 6 at 5:40pm

Local barber gives back in a meaningful way

Barber Ernie Flores, who works at All American Barber Shop in Oceanside, has found a special way to use his talents while giving back to his community. Last year, Ernie opened up a makeshift barbershop at Interfaith’s Betty and Melvin Cohn Center in Escondido. He comes in every Wednesday and keeps busy by cutting the hair of nearly a dozen clients each week.

Ernie began volunteering with Interfaith after a group of his coworkers were inspired at church to start helping the homeless. The group began collecting food and assembling hygiene kits with the idea of visiting local parks to pass out their donations, while also offering haircuts on-site free of charge. However, when they ran into the issue of not having access to electricity in the park to use hair clippers, Ernie connected with Interfaith and quickly set up shop.

“This is kind of like going to work, but I enjoy it so much more,” said Ernie, who volunteers at Interfaith on one of his two days off a week. “A haircut can make people feel like a million bucks and that I’m able to do that while I’m here is great.”

While talking with Ernie, we were introduced to Mike, a client who visited Interfaith during intake hours and overheard someone in our lobby inquiring about a haircut appointment. “I didn’t know that you guys did that here, so I asked if I could have my hair cut and they brought me right back!” said Mike. After sitting in Ernie’s chair, he had nothing but glowing things to say.

“I feel great. This is so awesome,” said Mike. “This is just such a blessing.”

While Ernie hopes that the haircut program can one day grow to include the other barbers in his shop, as well as his sister who is a hairstylist, for now he says it has been heartwarming to build a rapport with his weekly clientele.

“It’s been good to see some of the same people come in week after week and catch up on how they are doing,” said Ernie. “I don’t do this for recognition. I do this just because I enjoy it.”

Do you have a talent or passion beyond our traditional volunteer opportunities and want to give back to your community? Contact Micki Hickox, Volunteer Coordinator, at mhickox@interfaithservices.org to see how you can get involved today!