General George Custard famously said, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it's how many times you get back up.” South Florida’s Greg Young had experienced many knockdowns in life by way of addiction, homelessness and incarceration. He got back up—July 7, 2013.
Young says he had a troubled upbringing and he found more solace on the streets and using drugs and alcohol, “After my last stay in jail, I decided I needed to get some sort of trade if I was ever going to do anything with my life. I worked two jobs while taking the bus to barber school. After graduating I started working in different shops here and there but I was still so caught up in my addiction to drugs and especially alcohol. I was working just to make ends meet but I was absolutely miserable inside. Addiction had full control of me and was very quickly ruining my life.”
The Turning Point
On a hot afternoon of July 7, 2013, Young had decided enough was enough and attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He was finally ready to do whatever it took to stay sober.
As his sobriety grew stronger, so did his passion for life. In 2016 he partnered with Kevin Grande and established Nobelmen’s Cut and Shave barbershop in the Fat Village neighborhood in downtown Fort Lauderdale, grooming the who’s who of South Florida.
In 2017, Young started the Backpack Barber Foundation whose core goal is to change the life of a human being one haircut and one conversation at a time to instill inspiration, belief and new purpose.
“There’s so much life and beauty in Fort Lauderdale, but there’s also a huge homeless population,” says Young. “I’ve done other charity events, but I wanted to do something fearless, so I went right into a homeless area and I just started cutting people's hair. I also wanted to leave them with something useful. I give each person a backpack with hygiene products, water and a snack.”
Aside from providing a fresh cut, Young connects with each person as an individual. He says, “We talk, we share stories and we realize we’re more alike than we are different.We are no better and no less than the person standing next to us.”
Most recently Young has introduced Noble by Greg Young Matte Paste. The American-made hair product keeps shorter styles in place. A portion of the profits are invested into the Backpack Barber Foundation to reach out to local communities helping underprivileged kids and anyone struggling with homelessness.
For help with alcohol addition visit Alcoholics Anonymous www.aa.org
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