Salon offers haircuts from heart


Hairstylist Jess Snow (left), Serenity Salon II Owner JoAnn Page (center), and hairstylist Tito Souchet (right), pose with a sign advertising free haircuts for individuals with disabilities at Serenity Salon II, 205 N. Second St.

By Jessie Kern

DeKALB — It didn’t take much for Tito Souchet, hairstylist and father, to convince salon owner JoAnn Page to offer free haircuts to those with special needs — an idea that was inspired by Souchet’s 4-year-old son with autism.

Serenity Salon II, 205 N. Second St., has been offering the free haircuts for individuals with special needs once a month. The salon has been open in DeKalb for three years and began offering free haircuts for those with disabilities July 10.

Souchet said his son played a major part in his idea to offer free haircuts to individuals with special needs.

“I’m here for those in need, and even if [parents] think their son or their kid won’t handle it, I can take care of it, and I won’t give up trying,” Souchet said. “We’ll find a way. It’s a process; it’s something that’s not just going to happen over night. Sometimes when [individuals with special needs] keep coming back, they’re even better than the first time.”

Some people with special needs have a difficult time getting their hair cut.

Souchet said individuals with disabilities have often been kicked out of salons because they don’t react well to having their hair cut.

“I felt like nobody really tried to have the patience for them,” Souchet said.

Page said the special needs community often gets neglected and helping out is simple and fulfilling.

“We just started them not too long ago, but I think that it will definitely grow,” Page said. “You just never know how many [patrons with special needs] you’re going to have, so it’s awesome.”

Page said by providing free haircuts to those with special needs once a month, she hopes it will inspire other people to pay it forward.

Sarah Bullmer, who has cerebral palsy, said it was her first time using the free haircut service, which she saw advertised in a local newspaper. Bullmer lives in a group home in Sycamore called Opportunity House, 357 N. California St, and came to the salon with her mother.

“It was good; I liked getting it done, and they were really nice about it,” Bullmer said.

Bullmer said it was a good experience for her, and she is happy with how her hair turned out.

“This is a big benefit; it doesn’t matter how involved the people are with their handicapped citizens,” Bullmer’s mother Kris Hoffman said. “It’s just a really nice thing to do, and it’s a big help.”

Page said she hopes the salon can offer the haircuts once a month going forward. Nothing is official, but Page wants to offer the haircuts the first Sunday of every month.

“People appreciate it,” Page said. “You know, it’s hard for some people to get out, and Sundays are a good day for them.”

The salon also offers ongoing free haircuts for people who receive services from Hope Haven and Safe Passage at any time of the year.

“There are people like my dad who has Parkinson’s; there are people that are blind,” Page said.

“There are so many things out there that people need, and sometimes they like to just go and feel beautiful and have fun, and it doesn’t have to be all serious.”

From his own experience, Souchet said you have to build patience for working with individuals with special needs.

“People don’t really have the heart for it; if you don’t have the heart, then don’t do it,” Souchet said. “It’s a lot more than the money.”

Souchet’s goal is to someday open a barber shop specifically for individuals with special needs.

“It’s really nice when people reach out to the community, and I think people are a lot smarter and better educated now about the needs for special needs people,” Hoffman said.