Friday, June 15, 2018

Yankees HOPE Week Day 5: Be Awesome to Somebody

On Friday, the Yankees HOPE (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week concluded when Miguel Andújar, Aroldis Chapman, Domingo Germán, Gary Sánchez, Gleyber Torres and Ronald Torreyes join Mark Bustos, founder of Be Awesome to Somebody, in giving haircuts to the homeless community and Harlem YMCA residents.

Be Awesome to Somebody:

Be awesome to somebody. That is the message Mark Bustos hopes to share with anyone who hears his story.
Though the Manhattan-based hairdresser typically charges hundreds of dollars per session, with a list of clients that includes celebrities like nine-time Grammy winning singer Norah Jones and fashion designer Marc Jacobs, Bustos sets aside his Sunday afternoons to give haircuts to members of the homeless community.

Gary Sanchez giving a haircut. Courtesy of the Yankees.

Every Sunday, rain or shine, the 33-year-old packs clippers, scissors and a smile, ventures out in Manhattan, and tries to leave a positive impact on as many people as he can.
It all started on a childhood visit to see family in the Philippines, and his first eye-witness exposure to the reality of poverty. A self-taught barber who began cutting his friends’ hair in high school so they could pocket the barbershop money given to them by their parents, Mark knew it was obvious how he could give back.
Returning for another visit to the island nation in 2012, he rented a barber’s chair for the day and provided free haircuts to as many impoverished children as he could find. From the very first haircut, he felt just how inspiring it was to help people in need.
“Ever since that day, I realized, ‘Wow…I can travel anywhere with my skills and a pair of scissors and be able to make people happy,’” Bustos said. “Just by being able to do something like that, it was such an amazing feeling I’ll never forget.”
Encouraged by that enlightening experience in the Philippines, he vowed to continue making a difference once he returned home to New York, and brought the concept with him.

Gleyber Torres gave the cut and Aroldis Chapman is making sure it's perfect. Courtesy of the Yankees.

He found his first local recipient, a homeless man named Jamar Banks, in Manhattan’s Bowery district. After cutting Banks’ hair in Central Park, the gracious Banks asked Mark, “Do you know anyone who’s hiring? I want to go get a job.” Riding this sudden boost of confidence, Banks was instantly inspired to find a way to get back up on his feet, all because of a haircut.
Mark has recently been traveling the globe to give talks about how he balances his time between his hairstyling career and his volunteering efforts. On every trip, no matter where in the world he is, he always finds time to go out and find people to give haircuts to.
“My long term endeavor is to continue to inspire other people to find what they do best, find their passion and share it with love,” said Bustos.
He continues to give back in 2018 through his foundation, Be Awesome To Somebody, which was recently approved for 501(c)(3) status. He will open his own studio, in Summit, New Jersey, later this summer, and in the meantime has moved into his friend’s studio in Manhattan.
Now six years later, he has inspired other hairstylists around the world to take part in this act of kindness and “Be Awesome To Somebody.” Just like him, other stylists have followed in providing free haircuts to the less fortunate.
After all, a haircut is never just a haircut. And especially for men and women struggling through life on the streets, it can inspire and motivate, and even provide an avenue toward a better life.

Ronald Torreyes (l.) and Aroldis Chapman present a check to Bustos before Friday night's game. Courtesy of the Yankees. 

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