Barbering is a profession that draws individuals from all walks of life. We are not born barbers. Some of us find that we have innate raw talent, but in order to become a professional there are two things that any aspiring barber must do. He or she must hone the craft, and then become licensed by the state in order to work in a shop. It is our goal at ABI to provide the services that will give our prospective barbers a leg up on the competition through the educational experience and the licensure obtained after completing the barbering course.
But how do individuals decide to become barbers? There are many factors involved; including the type of lifestyle they want to live outside of work, what they want their work to mean to both their clients and themselves, and how their past experiences/circumstances have led them to the point that they decide that this is the right career path for them. But, as is often the case in choosing a career path, there can be roadblocks along the way. For a number of our students, ACCES-VR Program has removed those roadblocks, and, consequently, a number of those students have gone on to have successful careers as barbers, shop-owners, and instructors. Others, who currently attend the school, have found placement prior to graduation, and some are even currently working as they complete their barbering courses.
One of the students aided by ACCES-VR Program was Harold Brown. Aside from being one of the most remarkable students in the history of our school, he is a testament to the value of ACCES-VR Program, not only to us, but to the community at large. Harold is the self-proclaimed “Greatest One-Armed Barber in the World,” and it is hard to disagree with his self-assessment because it is hard to imagine someone with a disability like his to possess his incredible skill level. Harold has not only worked at numerous barber shops in the New York area over the past ten years, but he is the pride and joy of ABI, as one of our most valued instructors. A recent addition to the ABI staff, Harold has used his personality, talent, and ability to overcome an incredible disability as a source of inspiration for the entire student body. Harold was born at the incredibly high weight of about 10 ½ pounds, and during the process of extricating him from his mother’s womb, his left arm was irreparably damaged. Luckily, he still has the use of his left hand, but all of the work he does on customers is accomplished by his right hand alone. All he can do is hold items in his left hand, but he is not able to use it for barbering purposes. You, reading this, might ask yourself, “How is this possible?” You wouldn’t be the only one asking this question because Harold asks that question of himself every day. Even now, as a true Master Barber (not only by being licensed as such, but by truly being one), he finds it amazing that he has managed to become not only a professional barber, but one who is regarded by all who have seen his work as someone with the skill of any other great barber who has the benefit of two functional arms to work with. One of the major roles of ACCES-VR Program is to provide those with disabilities the opportunities to overcome them by getting an education and have a successful career. Harold is a shining example of someone who has overcome a tremendous disability with the assistance of ACCES-VR Program, and we couldn’t be prouder to have “The Greatest One-Armed Barber in the World” as a member of our staff, beloved by the students for the man and inspiration that he is.