Manassas Barber Shop exhausted mentors inspire local youth | Securities
For centuries, the barber shop has been a centerpiece of the black community. It’s the place where generations intersect and interact, and when Jeff Johnson was 13, he envisioned it as a tool for empowering youth.
Years later, after putting together the right team, Johnson turned his vision into reality.
Real Shop Talk Inc., founded in 2010, is a non-profit organization serving young men in the Manassas area for 10 years.
Through mentorship at Jaz Cutz Barbershop, owned and managed by President of Real Shop Talk, Jasmine Mitchell, and the organization’s three pillars – Christ, Confidence and Character – local youth learn skills that “will enable them to move effectively. from adolescence to adulthood, ”according to the organization’s vision statement.
Mentors are established members of the community, including business owners, veterans and intelligence specialists, who pass their life experiences and knowledge on to the next generation.
“It brings together a wide variety of men, young and old gentlemen, with a wide range of life skills and experiences,” Johnson said. “It puts us all in the same space and allows us to build on each other.”
William Garrison, a junior at Osbourn High School and a member of Real Shop Talk, experienced exactly what Johnson described. Initially he was not interested in joining the organization, but after experiencing what it had to offer he gained a new career path. He decided to go after Mitchell and is now a barber in training.
“I never wanted to be on the program, I was kind of forced by my mom, but it grew on me,” Garrison said. “I realized I might want to go barber. I went and talked to Jaz [Jasmine Mitchell] about that, and I’m a barber in training. I have a pair of clippers and trimmers and I will try to be one of the best barbers.
In addition to Real Shop Talk, a sister organization called Beauty Time serves young women in the Manassas community in the same way. The group emphasizes education and healthy relationships through mentoring, as well as three aspects of beauty: spiritual beauty (God and femininity), inner beauty (mental health / self esteem / goals) and external beauty (hygiene / physical health).
To promote the above values, organizations participate in community service, church trips, workshops and trips to theme parks. They also hold monthly meetings where young people can benefit from direct mentoring and participate in group discussions.
The activities all aim to put the youth of the organization on the right track, and while participating is rewarding, Real Shop Talk mentors go one step further to ensure the success and well-being of their mentees.
“We went to court to help parents keep custody or prevent girls from entering the juvenile detention center,” said Asha Watson, executive director of Real Shop Talk Inc. and president of Beauty Time . “We gave them the chance to do community service with us. I wrote a lot of college recommendation letters; these are my favorites.
Thanks to the activities, mentorship and hard work of members of the organizations, Beauty Time and Real Shop Talk have seen a high percentage of their high school graduates go on to high school.
While this statistic includes many successes, one of the most notable is that of a young man who was rough around the edges and who was seen by many as a lost cause when he joined the program. However, Real Shop Talk’s mentors have dedicated their time and resources to him and his future. Ultimately, he graduated from Osbourn High School and graduated from college.
“This story could have taken a different direction,” said Julian Purvis, the custodian of Real Shop Talk’s archives. “Instead, it’s a story about a young man who changed his life…. We have all been able to join him not only from a financial standpoint, but also from a mentoring, encouragement and counseling standpoint. … And now this is one of the many success stories that we have from the young men that we have touched that have come through this organization.