by Susan Fried
About a half dozen barbers volunteered their services last weekend so people could get free haircuts at Rainier Beach Community Center plaza. In addition to the cuts, there was food, entertainment, and free COVID-19 vaccines. The event was held in partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods and hosted by Fathers and Sons Together (FAST) — a youth development organization that aims to nurture the relationships between fathers and sons. It also featured three panel discussions around significant issues affecting the community, including one on health and wellness — in particular how they relate to COVID-19 — one on the recent surge in gun violence, and a third to discuss ways to help youth and create positive change in the community.
The health and wellness panel featured Chris Porter from POCAAN, a multicultural organization that works to address health disparities in marginalized communities, and Grace Wang from the International District Medical and Dental Clinic (ICHS). Vic Roberson with the Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC), Rex Brown from the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD), and Bo Reeves from the Hi-Tee Youth Golf Program were there to lead the discussion on how to create stronger communities.
The gun violence panel included Seattle Police Interim Chief Adrian Diaz, SPD Detective Denise “Cookie” Bouldin, Harriet Walden from Mothers for Police Accountability, and Victoria Beach, chair of the Seattle Police Department’s African American Community Advisory Council. Also present was Alicia Dassa — whose son Conner Dassa-Holland, 18, was shot and killed outside his home on Mother’s Day in 2020. The panel also included several young men from We Are Amazing, an organization started by FAST Youth Director Lincoln Wilmore, to “create a powerful, positive, and inspirational movement.”
The annual Barbershop Cut, Chat, Chew, and Play brings together community leaders, youth, and neighbors in an inclusive, positive, fun and constructive way. FAST said in their press release that they hoped that one of the outcomes of this year’s event would be that “this project will encourage hope instead of hopelessness and inspire leadership, accountability, and responsibility.”
Susan Fried is a 40-year veteran photographer. Her early career included weddings, portraits, and commercial work — plus, she’s been The Skanner News’ Seattle photographer for 25 years. Her images have appeared in the University of Washington’s The Daily, The Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and many more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.
📸 Featured Image: Jocelyn Mayhle from Frank’s Barbershop does a free haircut during FAST’s annual Barbershop Cut, Chat, Chew, and Play event on the Rainier Beach Community Center plaza on July 31, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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