Joseph (Jay) Rodriguez, barber and owner of the Parlor University of Barbers on Granby street in Downtown Norfolk has a big following.
He not only cuts, clips and shaves, he teaches other wanna be hair artisans how to be a barber. But he’s much more than that. He’s a veteran, having served seven years in the U.S. Coast Guard and many of his clients are vets.
Recently a close friend was diagnosed with PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. Something he’d heard of but didn’t know much about.
“I got to see it firsthand a lot of times he’d call me at 3 or 4 in the morning. He couldn’t sleep. And I decided you know what? We should stay awake for those who can’t sleep," says Rodriguez.
So he’s holding a 24-hour hair cut marathon Friday and Saturday to help local Vets. The hair cuts are free and he’s asking for donations to benefit veterans in need.
“He wanted to donate funding towards homeless veterans and veterans dealing with suicide," says Antoine Hines, community organizer for at risk veterans.
And the need is great.
“We have 22 veterans who commit suicide a day throughout the U.S. so for us to get to a point to really help them, motivate them, encourage them we’ve got to get other veterans and other people in the area to support them,” according to Hines.
His clients agree.
“You can tell his heart is really big and he loves helping people," says Tracey Pryor, a longtime client of Rodriguez.
Then Beverly Kidd of News 3 gave him a People Taking Action Award.
" For that we’d like to give you a People Taking Action award from News 3 and Southern Bank.”
“But wait there’s more! Our partners at Southern Bank would like to give you a 300 gift certificate to use however you like just for you.”
Everyone at the shop applauded.
Jay’s mom, Antonia Maldonado, who’s from Puerto Rico, was fighting back tears as she watched her son accept the award.
“Since he’s 12, he’s cutting hair and that was his dream. I’m very proud."
“We at Channel 3 want to thank you for your service and your service to the community. Thank you! thank you!”