August 8, 2017

Central Promise Neighborhood hosts back-to-school rally

Families lined up outside the Friendly Inn Settlement in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood before doors opened at noon on Monday for the annual Back to School Rally. School representatives, community support organizations and barbers filled the auditorium, offering back to school supplies and advice on how to choose the best school, as well as free haircuts. Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood hosted the event.

Cleveland.com published an article about the event and News 5 Cleveland ran a segment on the event. The text of the News 5 Cleveland segment is below.

News 5 Cleveland: Free back-to-school haircuts mean a lot in Cleveland neighborhood

August 7, 2017

BY HOMA BASH

Hundreds of families lined up at the Friendly Inn in Cleveland's Central neighborhood Monday for a back-to-school event that meant a lot.

Fresh haircuts, at no cost.

Dozens of barbers volunteered their time and expertise, including Urban Kutz Barbershop owner Waverly Willis.

He knows better than most how much a haircut can mean to a young kid.

"My mom was a single mom, four kids, and she couldn't afford to take us to the barbershop," Willis said. "So my mom was my barbershop. And she used to do a really bad job at it."

So bad that Willis eventually picked up the clippers himself, at 8 years old, and asked mom if he could do it himself.

"I was doing a terrible job just like my mom. The kids would all laugh at me at school, but like with anything, if you practice you get better at it," he said.

For Willis and the other volunteer barbers, it is more than just a cut -- it is also conversation.

"Give these kids a positive message, see how they're doing," Willis explained.

And for busy moms like Eboni Bolden, it is a relief -- a free haircut means another thing checked off her long back-to-school list.

"He looks so good. They did a good job," Bolden said of her 9-year-old son Marvier. "Cut my list down a whole lot, so yes, it helps."

The event was hosted by Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, who has been organizing the back-to-school rally for more than five years. In addition to free haircuts, families were also given free school supplies and uniforms. Representatives from more than 20 Cleveland schools were in attendance.

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, which is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, is the lead convener of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. Promise is a collective impact initiative that works to transform the educational and developmental outcomes of children in Central Neighborhood. Initiated in 2009, the Promise Neighborhood brings together many partners, including philanthropy, residents, community service providers and schools. The community-based Promise Neighborhood Advisory Board provides strategic direction with substantive input and guidance for the entire initiative.

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