A gift with all the trimmingsPublished 9:42pm Monday, October 15, 2012
A few months ago, the owner of Bakeman Barbers in downtown Dowagiac was greeted by a stranger who offered a donation to help those looking for work.
It was a gift that owner Pat Bakeman has been paying forward — surprising many customers in the past few months.
To this day, Bakeman only knows what she looks like. The sum, which Bakeman didn’t want to publicize, came with instructions from the donor to pay for haircuts for unemployed residents looking for jobs. Bakeman welcomed customers and listened to their stories. Those that detailed hardship and struggles with being out of work were surprised to find their haircut was free of charge.
“All she said was that the money should go to cutting hair for anyone out of work,” Bakeman said. “I didn’t say much about it at first because I didn’t want just anybody coming in looking for a freebie. I don’t think she wanted the money to go toward that.”
The funds, which Bakeman said was “enough,” were spread out as much as Bakeman could extend them to serve as many customers as possible.
“I’ve had people pay for others to get a haircut, but nothing like this where someone just comes in, blindly handing me money for free haircuts,” Bakeman said. “She asked that we would just help people.”
After the first donation ran out, which served 20 people experiencing hardship, another one of Bakeman’s customers was inspired to donate also, giving enough for two more free haircuts.
The first man that Bakeman gave a free haircut to was struck emotionally by the stranger’s generosity.
“He told me he has cancer, that his mom and dad were paying his mortgage and that he wanted to work, but couldn’t,” Bakeman said. “I thought he qualified … he almost cried when I told him.”
Bakeman said he wishes he knew why the donor chose to donate the money for haircuts, or why she chose his shop, which has been in business at 101 S. Front St. for more than seven years.
“You can never explain why people choose to do what they do,” Bakeman said.
“I wish I knew why she chose me, but I didn’t mind helping. I can’t take credit for what she did, though.”
Bakeman said the donations have run out, but he was glad to help those that needed it.
After being asked by the customers to thank the donor, Bakeman said he didn’t know how.
“That’s why I wrote a letter to the editor,” Bakeman said.
“I didn’t know who to thank, so I’m hoping she reads the paper and saw the letter.”
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