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Self-proclaimed ‘boy from the streets,’ barber mentors inner-city youth: “They need somebody”

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MILWAUKEE -- The growing murder rate in Milwaukee has caused concern for some community activists, and they're working to turn Milwaukee into a city that's a cut above the rest.

A self-proclaimed "boy from the streets," Aaron Blathers is now a godly man and business owner -- and a volunteer with the organization Safe & Sound.

The organization works to build safe and empowered neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

On a recent evening on Milwaukee's north side, he set up his sort of "traveling barber shop" and began preening his exclusive clientele -- Milwaukee's young people.

Blathers is part of Safe & Sound's "Barbershop Mondays" program.

Aaron Blathers

Aaron Blathers

Because of his "no fuss" approach to life, Blathers the barber is known as "Rock."

"I want them to actually know what the streets is and what`s actually going on out here," Blathers said.

Blathers saw the need for change and decided to start shaping Milwaukee's future.

Many of the young people he mentors through his barber shop live in Milwaukee's central city. We have seen more than 100 homicides this year alone, and it's not out of the ordinary to hear gunshots and see carjackings occur where these kids live. Many of these kids have seen their friends led away in handcuffs, instead of graduating from high school.

"These young boys and young girls -- they need somebody to talk to them," Blathers said.

Aaron Blathers

Aaron Blathers

Every Monday night, Damien Smith, a youth coordinator for Safe & Sound sets up roundtable discussions on how to better the lives of these young people, and everyone who takes part gets a free haircut.

"A haircut actually makes you feel good," Blathers said.

Mondays are typically Rock's night off -- but now, they're devoted to helping others.

"This is my retribution and my return to Milwaukee -- to actually let them know they will find a real brother in Rock," Blathers said.

Aaron Blathers

His goal is to keep these kids on the straight and narrow.

"That`s one of the main things -- keep them on the right track. I want to keep them positive and let them know they got somebody out there who actually loves them," Blathers said.

That's what makes Rock's haircuts special, and you don't even need a mirror to see the results.

The Barbershop Mondays events began in March through "Safe & Sound." Its youth organizer, Damien Smith says each week, there are new young people taking part, and regulars who return for the mentoring.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Safe & Sound, and how to become a volunteer.


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