Pure Philanthropy: How Cameron Sterling and Street Thug Barbers are giving back
As a co- founder of Street Thug Barbers, every Sunday Cameron Sterling and his wife head to Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where they meet up with friends and fellow barbers to give haircuts and massages to those in need.
“A haircut is a vehicle to get somebody that next job, the next opportunity, a proper conversation.
Getting to go in for a haircut or a shoulder massage, those kind of mediocre intimate moments—- aren’t felt by a lot of people in the downtown Eastside. Street Thug Barbers: it’s pure philanthropy. People just volunteering, a bunch of people giving back from all walks of life for the same goal for the community.”
Cameron, a former drug addict who has spent time in prison, is passionate about giving back to the community in the Downtown Eastside. “Nobody ever ventures into meeting the people in the community down there, people who are struggling with drug addiction, mental health. The name street thug barbers originated tongue in cheek with my background: being in and out of prison and on drugs. I’ve lived that life. I’ve been on heroin. I’ve used needles in my arm. I wanted to give back to something I believe in, I wanted to actually do something.”
Cameron and his co-founders started cutting hair on Sunday Aug 1, 2015 and they’ve been cutting every Sunday since then. Cameron estimates they’ve given nearly 7000 free haircuts.
“I believe there’s a reason I went through everything I went through. If I wasn’t giving back now, I believe I went through all that in vain. I’m doing a haircut and I’m connecting with somebody on the Downtown Eastside —– listening to their story— in the same park that I’ve had a needle in my arm 20 years earlier. And now I’m here with the love of my life giving back. It’s just, it’s the coolest feeling ever.”
If you’d like to support or volunteer with Street Thug Barbers, check out their Facebook and Instagram pages to reach out.
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