SEATTLE — Tommy Andrade of West Seattle made the decision to prioritize family over money.
“If you’re time-poor nothing else matters,” says Andrade. He left the lucrative world of engineering to go to barber college and now works at Rain City Barbershop in West Seattle. It was a family-first decision that Andrade says he doesn’t regret for a moment. Andrade moved to Seattle from Austin, Texas to work for Space X.
“I realized the long days and demands of the job left me with almost no time to see my son and he’s the most important thing to me,” Andrade said.
He lost his own father when he was just 10 years old and says he can’t imagine what kids who grow up without either parent go through.
“I had this idea the very first week of barber college and knew I wanted to give back and especially focus on kids who need it,” says Andrade.
He says a quick web search for foster care services led him to Amara in Seattle.
Ruth Tollefson is the Chief Philanthropy Officer with Amara and says the nonprofit is focused on changing the way kids and families experience foster care.
“We assist with everything from trauma treatment to building community and showing genuine love and compassion,” says Tollefson.
She admits the organization was delighted to hear from a local barber who wanted to offer his services. “It’s the best feeling in the world when someone calls and says ‘How can I help?’” says Tollefson.
Andrade is blocking off his Sunday schedule to cut hair for foster kids at no cost.
“It will be great to bond with these kids and form a relationship,” he said.
He was a part of the Big Brother program growing up and says his Big Brother was a barber and an influence that changed his life.
“I went to his wedding and told him how much he influenced me and this is my chance to offer that same support to foster kids,” Andrade said.
He’s also donating 25% of his sales for the first week of every month to Amara.
“You don’t need to donate money to make a difference. There are a million ways to help people and there are a million causes that are all noble, you know, so you just gotta find the one that you’re passionate about,” says Andrade.
Rain City Barbershop was created by Percy Anyimah who points to his “Space X engineer” as an inspiration to do more for the community.
“I want all of my barbers to own their own shop one day and giving back and connecting with the community in a deeper way is the way to start,” says Anyimah.
Anymiah says the free haircuts on Sundays are an example of how barbers can make a big impact. The staff at Amara agrees and the nonprofit hopes free haircuts for foster kids will inspire more people to step up.