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Lexington Academy of Barbering Gives First and Second Chances

 

Gordon Carsby is a barber in training at the Lexington Academy of Barbering.

Gordon Carsby is a barber in training at the Lexington Academy of Barbering.

By Patrice Muhammad

The Lexington Academy of Barbering (L.A.B) was founded in 2008. Since the inception, the owners have gone above and beyond the duty of any barber college. They have sacrificed payment from those who could not pay full tuition, and created an environment that allowed students to thrive and overcome any obstacle they may be faced with, including reentering society after incarceration.

To serve that purpose more effectively, The Lexington Academy of Barbering Community Foundation was founded. It has a workforce reentry program as part of it. The program serves former felons, low income and unemployed students.

As new 501C3, the community can make tax deductible contributions that will be used to help aspiring barbers stay in school.

Anthony Hayden, co-founder and current owner, said that they try to be understanding of the extraordinary circumstances of some of their students. He was in the Marines for 8 years and recognized that some of their students have been traumatized by prison experience and have post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) which is a social disorder that can be overcome with treatment.

Hayden says that many students have benefitted from the financial assistance of the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Lexington branch manager Jonathan White explained that the Vocational Rehab program is not designed specifically for former felons. “However, most people with felonies have something that makes them eligible. We help those with physical and mental disabilities, personality disorder, those who have had substance dependency or any other barrier to employment,” White said. Disabilities must be verified by a physician or a psychologist.

Vocational Rehab gives each person an individualized employment plan that may include tuition assistance for classes toward a new career, counseling or just an appointment to get glasses. The level of support needed varies greatly.

Gordon Carsby is currently enrolled in the L.A.B. for the second time. He says that both programs are “serving their purpose’’ and serving him. “[School] saved me because I couldn’t find real work. The Lexington Academy of Barbering Foundation covered the portion of tuition that wasn’t paid by Voc Rehab. Now I don’t have to worry about that part of it,’’ Carsby said.

Carsby left the barber college for a while but returned. He was always looking for steady employment but the best he could find was a job as a cook at a local restaurant and even for that, he had to have connections.

A Success Story

Master Barber Timothy Maxberry giving a shave at Idle Hour Barbershop.

Master Barber Timothy Maxberry giving a shave at Idle Hour Barbershop.

Timothy Maxberry remembers a day, several years ago. He was waiting for his friend, who was a barber, to finish work for the day. His friend had 3 people waiting and Timothy did the math, he’d make $75 more dollars. He knew then that this was a business that he was interested in.

But before Maxberry could enroll in a barber college, he was sent to prison. When released, Maxberry still had barbering on his mind and heard that his friend Rodney James was opening a barber school.

Maxberry started at the L.A.B in 2008 paying cash, he heard about the Vocational Rehabilitation program and began working with the State office, but a parole violation sent him back to prison.

Luckily, Maxberry was given another chance and with the financial assistance available through vocational rehab he finished in 2010.

“Barbering was my only way back. Due to my felony conviction I can’t get a good job. Only restaurants would hire me and that’s not what I wanted to do,’’ said Maxberry. He also said, barbering is one of many opportunities available, it just takes dedicated to finish any program.

Rodney James, who co-founded the L.A.B. with Hayden, is now owner of two barbershops, Supreme Service on North Limestone and Idle Hour Barbershop on Richmond Rd.

His childhood friend Maxberry was the L.A.B.’s second student. Over time, Rodney saw his friend’s work ethic and they’ve been able to do business together. “He followed the rules and standards and humbled himself to be a student. He’s back to his normal self and is now an entrepreneur. He’s the poster child for this program,’’ said James who is still an instructor at the L.A.B.

Maxberry manages The Idle Hour Barbershop for James.

Councilman Bill Farmer on a recent tour of the school, with founder Anthony Hayden.

Councilman Bill Farmer on a recent tour of the school, with founder Anthony Hayden.

Councilman Bill Farmer on a recent tour of the school, with founder Anthony Hayden.

The L.A.B. is on Winchester Rd. inside New Circle Rd. and is in the Fifth Council District which is represented by Councilman Bill Farmer. Farmer said, “This is a fantastic program. They help people make their own way.’’ Farmer plans to dedicate one of his monthly council reports, which airs on cable GTV-3, sharing information on the school and the Barber services available.

Mayor Jim Gray took a tour of the Barbering School, along with Councilman Farmer, during the week of Thanksgiving.  Gray was also impressed by the L.A.B. and their approach to education. “I am always inspired by entrepreneurs that think out of the box. This is an inspiring example of problem solving on the ground level. Very efficient. Often government programs get push back and there is money wasted on bureaucracy. This is ‘results oriented’,’’ said the Mayor.

The Lexington Academy of Barbering and the Kentucky Office of Vocational rehab are not set up specifically for former felons. All who are interested are encouraged to apply. To make a donation, obtain enrollment information or to get a cut or shave by a student barber at the L.A.B., call the school at (859) 231-1820. The address is 1132 Winchester Rd, Lexington, KY 40505. Lexington’s Office of Vocational Rehab is located downtown in the 5/3 Bank Building 301 E Main St # 500, (859) 246-2185.