Toby's Story

Toby's Story

“When I got divorced a few years ago, I didn’t know what to do next. My friends were giving me bad advice and inviting me to go to bars with them. But I have two kids and wanted to make the best decisions for them.

At that time, I was “couch surfing.” Even though I had my own business as a barber, I didn’t have a place to call home. One day, while cutting the hair of a regular client, I shared a bit about the struggles I was going through. He happens to be a pastor and he invited me to come to his church--and I started going. One Sunday he announced there was a need for volunteers at the Christian Aid Center.

I had Mondays off, so I thought I could provide haircuts for the guests there. I contacted the volunteer coordinator and we set up a time to meet and take a tour. As we walked through the building where their little barbershop is, I suddenly realized that I had been here before. I think I had blocked that time out of my memory bank as a child.

When I was about eight years old, my mother made the desperate decision to leave my father. They had a toxic relationship and her doctor warned her that the stress was going to kill her. I don’t know how she found out about this place, but one night she brought me and my little sister here. We stayed for two days while she figured out what we would do next. She ended up going back to school and later owning her own barbershop.

Now, more than 30 years later, I look forward to volunteering in the very room where we had stayed. And I get to hang out with these guys who are so genuine and sincere when they thank me for cutting their hair. It’s so gratifying to see the transformation that takes place from when they first get here, to when they cross the finish line of completing the program and moving on to a better life. As a volunteer, I love that I get to be a part of helping to provide that change.”