Arbors at Delaware and Sandusky Street Barber Shop are pairing together to offer veterans free haircuts. Through the collaboration, 10 tickets will be given out to the first veterans to reach out. Those tickets can then be taken to the shop for a cut, free of charge.
The program is one of many that Arbors at Delaware does throughout the community to support local veterans. Arbors at Delaware is the only nursing home in Delaware that has a Veterans Association (VA) contract, meaning veterans can come to Arbors and have services paid by the VA if they are 70% service-connected or above, Tracey Cugini, the admissions director at Arbors, told The Gazette.
Cugini said more than 20 veterans currently live at Arbors, and the home is very dedicated to veterans both at Arbors and in the community. In looking to do something locally to support veterans, Cugini landed on the idea of contacting a barbershop in Delaware to pay for 10 free haircuts for veterans.
After calling Sandusky Street Barber Shop, located at 28 S. Sandusky St. in downtown Delaware, Cugini found that shop owner Bob Watts is a veteran himself, having served in the United States Navy from 1991-95.
When Cugini first reached out to Watts, he said his first inclination was to do the haircuts at a discounted price. However, when Cugini called him back to set up payment, Watts said he declined any type of compensation.
“Being a veteran, it’s a brotherhood,” Watts said of the decision to offer the cuts on the house. “We take care of one another, that’s what we do.”
Cugini said she nearly teared up when Watts refused payment for the haircuts, instead offering them free. “That just gave me goosebumps because that is so amazing,” she said.
Veterans who would like to receive a free haircut must pick up a ticket from Cugini at Arbors at Delaware, which is located at 2270 Warrensburg Road. There will only be 10 initial tickets, she said, but added that Arbors is going to pay for 10 additional haircuts if there are more than 10 veterans who express interest.
“It’s near and dear to my heart,” Cugini said of supporting veterans. “My grandfather and my great uncle were both in World War II and were prisoners of war. Working with veterans has always had a special place in my heart … When Bob said he wanted to pick up the haircuts for free, it almost brought me to tears because that’s just us coming together for each other.”
As so many businesses struggle to recuperate the income lost as a result of the shutdown, a decision to give away free business takes on an added challenge. For Watts, there were additional obstacles to overcome earlier this year when his business was one of several that were impacted by the May flood. Watts said he arrived that morning to find 14 inches of water in his shop.
“The flood was a bad day, man,” Watts said. “But what made it so bad is that I had only been open three days prior because of the shutdown. I kind of stood there for a few minutes contemplating whether I was supposed to here or not. I felt totally defeated that day.”
Despite yet another blow, Watts said there were good things that happened that day, namely the community’s response to the impacted businesses. He added that of all the businesses to get hit with the flooding, his was the least severe, and he’s been able to recover just fine.
Regardless of his personal circumstances, Watts said there is never a wrong time to be generous and give, making the decision to offer the free cuts a no-brainer.
“Even if you are in a bad situation, there is always someone in a worse situation,” he said. “A pastor at a former church of mine used to say, ‘You can’t outgive God.’ You can’t be overly charitable, so this is just the right thing to do. People took care of me after the shutdown and after the flood. There was definitely an outpouring of support, and you have to pay it forward.”
To request a haircut ticket, contact Cugini at 740-815-8884 during business hours, which are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sandusky Street Barber Shop is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, the shop is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.