BALTIMORE — When you think of a barbershop, does mentoring come to mind? Well, in Baltimore County, one barber made it his mission to not just offer haircuts but also guidance, and because of his efforts, he received a special award.
Joseph Benn is a barber and owner of Alexander's barbershop. To some he may be a barber who gives a great haircut, but for others he's a mentor and a guide for at-risk youth.
"I don't know where I would be in life without his advice. I just want to say thank you for being a father figure to me," said Devonte Williams one of Benn's mentees.
Benn got his start in mentoring by simply cutting hair and listening to the problems of his clients, but instead of them leaving with the same issues, Benn gave the solutions and helped them come up with a plan.
Soon his mentorship became known to many, and soon he was able to provide job skills, clothing and more to his clients.
"I met Joe when I was a kid in foster care. I didn't really have any guidance or know what I wanted to do in life until I met this him," said Donald Wilson, mentee.
Benn says everything he does is for the community. He has a goal to uplift the youth and help create a better Baltimore by starting with the next generation.
"I always tell people to be the change you want to be and never be afraid to ask for help," said Benn.
To honor his invaluable guidance, comptroller Franchot, awarded the extraordinary barber with the William Donald Schaefer helping people award.
"Joseph congratulations, you embody the altruistic motives that represent the foundation of the William Donald Schaefer helping people award. That's why it's an honor to present this," said Franchot.
Benn expressed a desire to one day open a nonprofit to reach more at-risk youth, but until then, Alexander's barbershop is always looking for mentees.
The barbers there say no matter the age there’s a chair for you.