ALBANY, N.Y. (WNYT) – Myk O’Kane makes a living working wonders with the clippers at Tru Images barbershop in Albany. However, on Wednesdays he makes a life.
That’s when he packs his tools of the trade to walk the city streets looking for men, most of us pretend not to see: the homeless.
“A haircut, I think, is extremely powerful,” explained O’Kane. “I think just in general we want to look good, feel good.”
Anywhere he finds a fellow who’s down and out, O’Kane sets up shop to give him a haircut and a shave wrapped in tender respect.
“It’s my way of showing that I care about you, the person, appreciate you and you’re important,” he reasoned.
He also brings his shop on the go to homeless shelters.
O’Kane understands these men. He spent time on the streets when he was 16 and unruly, as he describes it.
It opened his eyes to the world. He reconnected with his parents who’s love never wavered during his rough patch. Now, he’s a dad and about to be married.
The haircut is just an opening to let these men know someone is on their side.
NewsChannel 13’s Benita Zahn asked if anybody ever comes back afterwards and says “Man, you did that for me and that was the turning point in my life.”
“Oh yeah, definitely, definitely it’s happened,” O’Kane replied.
“There’s actually been a time when I was driving and I saw somebody with a guitar sitting on a bench down here and I pulled over and hopped out with my backpack and was like ‘Hey, would you like a haircut? I like your guitar,’ and he was like, ‘Sure.’” recalled Kane. “We just started talking about music and life and his struggles my struggles. It was a beautiful time.”
By then, he was comfortable offering the haircuts. At first it was a little awkward, despite the good intentions.
“He didn’t know how to take it. I didn’t really know how to present it. So, it was a little awkward, but you know, he eventually let me do it and it was great, it was great. I see him around all the time,” O’Kane beamed.
Now, he falls into a comfortable pattern with the men. They share their stories of loss, of life, of drink.
“Muhammad Ali had a quote and it was ‘Service to others is the rent we pay for our room here on Earth,’” noted O’Kane. “I’m just trying to pay for my room here on Earth.”
By the time the barbering is done, their hearts have been eased. The men are reminded their lives matter.