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City Allows 82-Year-Old Veteran to Continue Free Haircut Service for Homeless

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By Katherine Weber, Christian Post Reporter
June 18, 2013|12:43 pm

An 82-year-old veteran who seeks to "help the least of our brothers" by offering free haircuts to the homeless in Hartford, Conn., has been granted special permission by the city's mayor to continue his charitable work in the small east coast town after being temporarily banned last week.

Anthony Cymerys of Windsor, Conn., has been offering free haircuts in exchange for hugs in Bushnell Park every Wednesday for the past 25 years, until last Wednesday, when city health officials and police told him to close up shop due to reported concerns of "safety and sanitation" from local residents, according to The Associated Press.

Additionally, some anonymous residents reportedly complained because Cymerys did not have a barber's license, and many weeks his friends would join him at the park to help hand food out to the needy, which some argued was unsanitary.

Mayor Pedro Segarra of Hartford granted Cymerys, who also goes by the nickname "Joe the Barber," a reprieve on Thursday, citing all of his years of charitable service for the homeless as the reason he will be allowed to stay in the park and continue giving haircuts.

Additionally, the city offered to help Cymerys obtain a proper barber's license, although the charitable barber told The Associated Press that he is conscious of cleanliness and soaks all of his clippers in alcohol.

According to The Hartford Courant, a statement released by the city indicated it was granting Cymerys "a special dispensation in light of his numerous years of charitable work to the city of Hartford and wishes for him to continue his great and generous work in Bushnell Park."

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"It's all about inspiring people to do things for the least of our brothers," Cymerys, a retired businessman, told AP.

When he was temporarily told to pack up his makeshift barber shop on Wednesday, Cymerys reportedly relocated to the local homeless shelter to continue his charitable deed.

Cymerys told The Hartford Courant that his order to leave the park took him by surprise because he had been cutting hair for so many years and had often been encouraged by the local police for his work.

Additionally, the Leadership Greater Hartford group awarded Cymerys with a Polaris Award in 2011 for his charitable works.

The charitable barber told ABC News back in May that he describes himself as a volunteer addict, as he also works through other charitable organizations in the community, including volunteering for Meals on Wheels and running the Red Cross blood drive at his local church.

Additionally, Cymerys takes a special joy in helping veterans, as he himself was drafted into the U.S. Army shortly after the Korean War ended, although he never encountered combat.

"It's all about being kind to people, and it works three ways. You feel good, the person you're doing it for feels good, and people that are watching feel good," Cymerys told ABC News.

Cymerys, who also cares for his two siblings, a 96-year-old and a 98-year-old, added to ABC News that the feeling he gets helping people cannot be duplicated.

"You have grown men, 6 feet 5 inches tall, kissing you and squeezing you half to death," Cymerys said.

"You can't buy that."

 

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