If you got to Toledo and started seeing street people with nice haircuts, you would be seeing the work of a Montpelier man. Wayne Staszel has launched his “Better Image Mobile Salon” ministry and found it so much fun he has been going back. What started out as a desire to help homeless people look and feel better about themselves has grown into a passion.
“It was a very emotional day for all of us involved,” Staszel said. The first trip was to the Cherry Street Mission in Toledo. The team had two cosmetology students (Wayne’s daughter and a friend) cutting hair, while Staszel said he gave buzz cuts outside. “We only had one chair, I could have used two,” Staszel said.
In addition to haircuts, the team gave out shoes, food and toiletries. One man’s story touched Staszel. The man said he lived by the railroad tracks and showed up wearing a flip-flop/croc type footwear on one foot and a tennis shoe on the other foot. “We were able to put him in a pair of matching shoes,” Staszel said. “I made some good friends that day,” Staszel said.
The homeless community received the team well, but did offer some advice on better, more appropriate supplies to bring. These include sunscreen and feminine hygiene products. “The reception was awesome,” Staszel said.
Staszel figures his team ministered to about two dozen people May 20. About eight or so people hung out with the team for a couple hours. He believes he made friends with many people and that was borne out when he went to downtown Toledo and met up with many of the same people, Staszel said.
With an emphasis on the mobile aspects of his mission, Staszel has returned to Toledo to scope out new spots to park the trailer. While the first time out at Cherry Street was great, he wants to reach out to new areas to serve a broader base of the homeless. “We want to get around the city as much as we can,” Staszel said. “Because it appears these homeless that we ran into pretty much localize themselves to a couple-block area. We haven’t even ventured to East Toledo yet, which I hear is pretty bad.”
The most recent visit was highlighted by a park filled with homeless people, many sleeping in the grass. The team got some pizzas and pop and they had an impromptu picnic.“We made contact with a business that’s going to allow us to park on their premises to do our work,” Staszel said.
Being a relative newcomer to Toledo, Staszel wants to use all avenues to let the city know about his ministry. He had alerted the local television stations about his May 20 event. Channel 13 ABC came out and did a piece for its 11 o’clock news, Staszel said. “The newscast did well. I received comments from people on our Facebook page from Toledo,” Staszel said. “They either sent us donations or I am going to meet up with them on our next trip.”
The exposure has helped boost support locally as well. Support can be expressed monetarily or through supplies.
The newscast and the many photos on his Facebook pages also serve as a way of being accountable. “People like to see it being put to work,” Staszel said. “So that exposure showed them it really worked out well.”
The goal is to show people his ministry was not a one-shot deal. He believes in posting photos and posts to keep the mission in people’s minds. There are videos with recipients, which Staszel believes adds a personal touch. “We are not just going down throwing off bags of food, pulling out,” Staszel said. “We are making relationships.
While the initial stop was at the Cherry Street Mission, future trips will be to different places. The mission has a set of protocols and procedures for handling the homeless and Staszel said he needs more flexibility.
Since the goal is to serve all the homeless and not just Cherry Street residents, Staszel knows he has to branch out. He said Cherry Street was strangling his imagination about how to serve the needy.
“We are not going to be associated with any organization,” Staszel said. “We are just going to travel.” A ministry in Fort Wayne will soon host the mobile salon. As for finding places in Toledo, Staszel has found no resistance. The situation is dire and people are willing to help. “You couldn’t go a block without seeing at least one homeless person,” Staszel said.
Staszel and Jennifer French met with a homeless man named Howie on their reconnaissance trip. Howie is described as a little grump fellow. “Howie touched our hearts in a big way the first time we were there,” Staszel said. “After we trimmed his beard, we hugged each other and said we loved each other. We ended up finding Howie that day and brought him his pants we promised.” Staszel also purchased a backpack and a hot meal for Howie. “Things are looking great,” Staszel said.
The team is scheduled to venture down to Toledo again June 3. It will be down the street from Cherry Street Mission near the intersection of Monroe and LaGrange.
Staszel is looking for feminine hygiene products, socks, deodorant and baby powder. The latter is a favorite of the homeless to put in their shoes.
One thing Staszel wants people to know is the homeless are not greedy. Where it would be easy to swipe six pairs of socks or a cool-looking shoe, the homeless just take one pair of socks and leave the pair of shoes for someone who they would fit better, Staszel said.
Getting this mission under way has been a blessing or Staszel. The work of stocking up supplies and then distributing them as he sees fit has changed him. “I needed it,” Staszel said. “It changed my outlook. It is unbelievable what it has done for me.”
He has told his wife he now feels more comfortable around the homeless and than he does around some regular folks. “I feel like God’s got His hands on this mission,” Staszel said.
For anyone who would like to help, they can contact Staszel through the Brighter Image Mobile Salon Facebook page or through his phone at 419-216-5166.
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