Rockville man gives back via haircuts

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Fri., Sep. 9, 2011
Samuel Flint gives a client a haircut at the Cornerstone Foundation Soup Kitchen in Rockville, which he visits once a month. Photo by Steve Smith.
Samuel Flint gives a client a haircut at the Cornerstone Foundation Soup Kitchen in Rockville, which he visits once a month. Photo by Steve Smith.

Samuel Flint, a 24-year-old student of the Brio Academy in East Hartford, has found a way to practice his craft, while helping people in need in his native Rockville. Once a month, Flint gives haircuts, free of charge, in a closed office room to people at the Cornerstone Soup Kitchen on Prospect Street.

A sign-up sheet lines up appointments, and Flint typically sees about five to six clients during a visit. The response, he said, has been great. “They think it’s pretty cool that I’m giving back a little bit,” Flint said. “That's why I'm doing it. I've been in some tough situations in my life before, so to be able to give people something that gives them a sense of value, is kind of a pay-it-forward thing.”

Flint said he tries to honor requests, and occasionally gets asked for some unique designs. “I've put Homer Simpson into the back of a friend's head,” he said. “[I get] all kinds of stuff – stars, lines, graffiti. Usually, though, the people here just want a trim, or to cut it short, because they don't know when their next haircut will be.”

Sometimes, he is asked to give a haircut to someone before their job interview. “That's another reason why I like doing this,” Flint said. “If I can help someone get a job... it's the small things like that that accumulate and help in the long run.”

Flint said he has learned that many people are judged on appearances, rather than on their experiences, and their real value. “Most people see somebody and think he’s one thing or another,” he said, “but they don't know what the real story is. Everybody's got a story, and bad things can happen to anyone.”

Flint has been cutting hair for friends and family for about 10 years. His hope is that after graduating from school and getting his stylist's license, he can open his own salon, but he still intends to make appearances at Cornerstone and other locations.

“What I really want to do is – because everyone usually hangs out in the center of Rockville – I want to set up a tent there, like once a month, to give haircuts,” Flint said.

“We love having him here,” said Cornerstone Executive Director Helen Syriac. “He has a wonderful personality. People like him. When he first offered to come, we said, ‘Yes.’”

While getting to hone his skills, Flint said the real reward he gets is helping his clients. “Just a handshake and a smile - that's all I want,” he said. “Doing something for other people gives you a different type of feeling - something you don't get from doing things for yourself.”

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