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Aug 13, 2015 | Carol E. Barnwell

Career Shift Puts Stylist’s Art on the Road

 

[Diolog Magazine] Barbara Goodson is closing the loop after 37 years. Following a long career in the oil and gas business, she has returned to her first love—cutting and styling hair. But not just anyone’s hair—homeless men and women, the elderly or infirm who can’t make it to a salon or can’t afford a beauty shop visit, as well as women who have recently been released from jail.

 

Goodson uses her artistry to lift spirits, to touch, to honor people who are not the usual clients at the local barber shop or beauty salon. 

 

“I remember Bishop [Andy] Doyle’s call to mission at Diocesan Council about reaching out and I felt prodded by God to move on an idea I’d had for many years: Have Shears Will Travel,” Goodson said. The oil company she worked for closed its doors at the end of March, a victim of falling oil prices, so Goodson heeded the “nudge,” got a website and took up her scissors. She immediately had appointments with Angela House, a ministry to women newly released from prison; Family Promise; Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM); and Brigid’s Hope at The Beacon, a ministry of Christ Church Cathedral, Houston. 

 

She had a couple of people lined up at Lord of the Streets homeless ministry recently and by the time she had finished one or two cuts, a group of curious onlookers had joined the line for a new “do.”

 

“I feel like a new person,” each said as they admired their new haircuts. Myra Mitchell, community outreach director at LOTS, was thrilled. “It is life affirming and builds esteem to give dignity through such a generous act,” she said. “It’s true that when your hair looks good, you feel good,” Mitchell continued. “Have Shears Will Travel makes life good for those who often must search deeply and endlessly for that good feeling.”

 

Goodson started cutting her own hair at age 12. She experimented on her siblings, and her parents got regular trims through the years. Goodson got her license in 1978 and kept it current when she began working in the oil industry.

 

While she was a member at Church of the Redeemer, Houston, a woman asked Goodson to cut her daughter’s hair. Nine-year-old Kayla had already lost a leg to the bone cancer she was battling. “I arrived to see her straggly hair, a remnant from chemotherapy. I sat her in a chair and did the best I could. When she looked in the mirror, she began to sing, ‘I feel pretty, oh so pretty …’”

 

Kayla’s attitude in the face of her disease and her early death changed Goodson’s life.  “She was always chipper … She didn’t want her parents or her siblings to worry about her because she said, ‘I’m going to be with Jesus’,” Goodson remembers. “It made me not afraid of death. It changed my life.”

 

Goodson petitioned the Texas Board to allow hairdressing services within a person’s home, using Kayla as her example of the need, and as a result of her efforts, guidelines were altered to allow stylists to attend to those unable to get to a salon.  She has worked with the HAAM and others in her area to provide the service to people in need.  Through the years, she has cut and styled hair for elderly shut-ins, for a couple who couldn’t afford the charges at their nursing home’s salon, for a woman who had just had her hip replaced and was homebound for a period of time.

 

“I’m not a doctor,” she said, “but I believe my hairdressing has brought healing to those I’ve served. It has never failed that when I’ve attended to particularly an elderly person, their spirits are uplifted just to be touched and loved and cared for in a personal way.” She hopes that her mobile salon services will “touch others with the love of Jesus.”

 

Goodson attended Modern Barber College in downtown Houston because it was the only one she could afford. She saved every tip she received to purchase her tools. There was no end to the volunteers she found at Redeemer while she learned her trade. “People would line up for haircuts on Saturday,” she said. The first shave she gave with a straight razor was to a homeless man who had passed out by the front door of the barber college. “He was a good candidate and I did a good job,” she said. He left with uplifted spirits.

 

Goodson, an active member of Christ Church, Atascocita, did not grow up attending Sunday school. “My parents went to the golf course on the weekends,” she said. In her early 20s, she “fell into the arms of the Episcopal Church” after a friend invited her to Redeemer’s coffee house where she doesn’t remember any coffee being served. “They sang songs and people shared their testimony. People were sitting on the grass. I was mesmerized by what I experienced as the peace of God,” Goodson said. “I was captivated by the love of God, peace and the presence of caring people. The Holy Spirit was there.”

 

The same Holy Spirit is with her when she offers others her own kind of loving care, she believes. “Have Shears Will Travel is a ministry. It is love that I am imparting because the Holy Spirit is with me all the time, why wouldn’t it be?” she says. “God has moved me to do this. I feel I am along for the ride.”

 

Goodson now has 501(c)(3) status for Have Shears Will Travel and has added additional stylists to help her with a growing list of requests, including back-to-school haircuts for students through the Houston Police Department. She is also taking her clippers to several homeless ministries in Houston as well as Covenant House, an outreach to teenagers in the Montrose area of Houston. Her vision includes a self-contained mobile unit that can offer full services to her clients. Learn more at www.haveshearswilltravel.org.

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