Our newest partner, Oakland Unite, hosts a Friday Summer Nights program through the summer in the highest risk neighborhoods in Oakland. Their mission is to prevent violence before violence occurs by utilizing proven and effective methods to reduce violence. Trust is built when neighbors can come out and enjoy conversation and food with other members of their community.

Oakland Unite reached out to us to see if we were interested in participating. We attended the event in July, offering haircuts to the Fruitvale community at the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park. The community enjoyed food, entertainment, raffles, and other services provided by other sponsors.

At this event, volunteer Jenifer Akagi of 77 Salon Inc. in Oakland came out to share her haircutting talents. She also brought the whole family! Ayako Kiener photographed the evening for us. Kobe Kiener, her husband, and family dogs checked our guests in. Jenifer wears many hats: stylist extraordinaire, busy salon owner, and fearless leader in her community. She is also one of our founding board members. We always appreciate her wonderful presence when she is able to join us.

When we engage in conversation with our neighbors and hear their stories, it is more apparent than ever that economic disparities exist, and our services are needed. At each of the events that we attend, participants can sit down at one of our Personal Care Day experiences. We get the privilege to witness their transformation – they can see and really recognize themselves, they remember the most basic of self-care, and they are listened to for an hour. Our volunteers open their hearts, share their talents, and help to make each participant feel normal again.