When Robert Cradle opened a barbershop across from Fort Meade Army base in Maryland, little did he know that within 10 years he would change the community and bring hope to hundreds of people. After the volunteer coordinator at a local homeless told Cradle many of the shelter’s residents’ poor grooming habits kept them from employment and other opportunities, Cradle immediately thought he should do something to help.

He decided to put a ballot box at the front of his barber shop and labeled it “Haircuts for the Homeless.” Cradle hoped his clients would donate a few dollars now and then so he could provide haircuts for people living at the local shelter. He thought a new look would give someone living at the shelter a boost in self-esteem that might open the door to a new opportunity.

Within a few months Cradle had collected hundreds of dollars. That was enough for Cradle to send his barbers out to the shelter and provide 100 haircuts. He quickly realized that his idea could be more than a small collection box. That’s when Cradle decided to start a foundation that could help people in shelters around the city.

Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation was formed, and it has grown into a full-fledged charity that offers more than just haircuts. Cradle and his team of barbers and stylists offer encouragement to hundreds of people who have nearly lost all hope.

Since its inception, according to Ebony magazine, the foundation has given close to 14,000 free haircuts to men, women and children. Of that group, more than 1,700 people have been able to secure job interviews. With an improved appearance and greater self-esteem, several were able to land jobs, begin to earn income again, and transition into their own homes. The foundation has now partnered with local shelters around Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland and installed barbershops on their premises operated by some of the shelter’s residents that Cradle trains to cut hair.

Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation, and Cradle’s generosity is an prime example of how one person giving back can impact a community.

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