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Before and after: Haircuts help boost morale at annual Anchorage event aimed at prevention of homelessness

  • Author: Marc Lester
  • Updated: January 29
  • Published January 23

Ludwig Hansen, before and after his haircut. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)

Dozens of people lined up for haircuts Wednesday in the lower level of the Egan Center in downtown Anchorage, keeping five student hairdressers and two instructors shearing nonstop for hours.

The service was part of the one-day Project Homeless Connect event.

“I really like that we can be here and do this, kind of clean people up, make them pretty, make them smile,” said Georgie Forrest, an instructor for Trend Setters School of Beauty, which provided the free haircuts. “I’m a firm believer, if you look good you feel good.”

Neil Beaton agreed that a haircut can boost morale after his blond hair was cut and combed.

“It gives them confidence to go out and mingle with the rest of society,” he said.

Event coordinator Alan Budahl said 60 organizations pitch in for Project Homeless Connect. That included housing and employment services, legal aid, health care representatives and government agencies. More than 50 volunteers helped coordinate and direct people toward help they may have needed.

“For a lot of people coming through today, they’re either homeless or on the verge of being homeless,” Budahl said.

Project Homeless Connect, in its 14th year in Anchorage, has also proven to be uplifting for the 250-plus people who showed up to help.

“You get to see it in the other light, and see that homeless here are people, they’re human beings. They have a personality,” Budahl said.

At the haircut stop, some sought a subtle trim while others chose dramatically different looks.

Cheryl Esai, who said she has been staying in a hotel room, had just a couple inches taken from her long hair. It has been years since she had a haircut, she said.

“I feel better. My hair is lighter. All the dead ends are gone,” Esai said. “Yay.”

Ludwig Hansen said he’s been living homeless in Anchorage but hopes to return to Bristol Bay soon. He said he appreciated the Trend Setters volunteers.

“This is beautiful,” Hansen said. “All it takes is just somebody to give 10 minutes.”

Trend Setters gave 112 haircuts during the event Wednesday.

Neil Beaton. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
Cheryl Esai. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
Lucillia Henry. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
Charles Deveney. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
Matthew Gallo. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
Alex Peterson. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
Susan Nelson. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)