Under the shade of a giant oak tree in front of Neighbor to Neighbor on Thursday, barber students from Northern Technical College cut hair and maybe picked up on some ideas on how to live a better life.
Travena Jefferson, owner of the college with locations in Pine Bluff, on East Harding Avenue, and Hot Springs, brought over a van full of students from the Hot Springs campus to infuse some community responsibility into them.
"I want to give back," she said as clients from the food pantry gathered to get one of the free trims. "I want to instill that back into the youth. You've got to give back, but in order to teach that, you've got to demonstrate it."
The campus in Pine Bluff is in the same building where Eaton Barber Stylist College was located for many years, Jefferson said.
"It's just the name that's changed," she said, adding that she has close to 25 students at the Pine Bluff location. "We're still there doing the same thing."
Letez Glover, 22, was working on Collars Davis' hair while the two talked about life.
"You older folks spread a lot of wisdom to us younger people," said Glover, who lives with family in Hot Springs. "We don't have the kind of wisdom people your age have."
"The thing about it is, a lot of people your age don't want to listen to what us older folks got to say," said the 62-year-old Davis, his eyes closed.
An instructor took the battery-powered sheers from Glover, who has been cutting hair all of one month, and showed the young student how to gently maneuver around Davis' ears.
Waiting on his turn to cut hair was Riley Benton, 21. Benton got married right out of high school when he was 19, and now he and his wife have a baby girl. His night job is waiting tables, the money from which allows him to go to barber school during the day. His plan is to open his own shop in the Hot Springs area some day.
"I've got big plans for that," he said.
At the other barber chair, Savannah Brown, 27, was working on James, who declined to give his last name. More specifically, she was working on James' beard.
Brown, who has been in training for three months, was carefully taking swipes at James' mustache. Instructor Jenny Proeller took the sheers and gave Brown some pointers.
"Let him know you're up around his face," Proeller said, gently brushing the side of James' face as she began work. "If he jumps and you aren't ready, he loses his beard and it's your fault."
Proeller said she thought the day had gone well as she handed the sheers back to Brown.
"It's good to be out of the classroom," Proeller said. "It's good to be barbering outside."
Brown finished up on James and reached for the hand-held mirror to show James what he now looked like.
"Hey, awesome!" he said, admiring his trimmed beard.
"Looks great," an onlooker said.
"Good job, Savannah!" Proeller shouted out.
Glover, who was also finishing up on Davis, removed the cape covering him, then put it back on him as Jefferson took a few pictures. Before Davis got up, he looked around and caught an image of himself in a mirror that was part of a table set up between the student barbers.
"I didn't know that was me right there," he said with a laugh as he rubbed his palm back and forth over his head and stared at himself. "That looks good. I appreciate y'all. Y'all are good folks."
"You're making a lot of people happy today," said Pat Tate, director of Neighbor to Neighbor.
"That's what it's all about," Jefferson said.