When he realised senior citizens in his community were underappreciated and overlooked, Warren Theunis knew he had to do something about it.
Now the Cape Town barbershop owner is putting smiles on pensioners’ faces one haircut at a time.
Warren, from Claremont in Cape Town, decided to open the doors of his Strandfontein barber shop to give back to the elderly in his community.
“A free haircut was just a way to say thank you and that we appreciate them,” Warren tells YOU.
In 2018 he started a project called Groomed for Change where he and three other barbers give seniors a free haircut. What was meant to be a one-off token of appreciation quickly gained traction and snowballed into a monthly event.
“Before we knew it, we were doing 60 to 70 seniors on the last Wednesday of the month,” he says.
In addition to the snazzy haircuts, Warren and his team would also get local performers to entertain the golden oldies as well as get nurses from the local clinic to check their blood pressure.
“We added the bits and bobs to make it feel like a fuller event,” he says proudly.
The businessman, who also owns a barbershop in Cape Town’s City Centre, says he’s learned so much about the elderly while doing their hair.
“The seniors have this rapport about them, they’re not trying to prove anything to anyone. They have a wealth of knowledge that’s untapped because we don’t take note of them. We dictate to them instead of listening.”
Not only has he been helping the elderly in his community, he’s also been assisting youth and farmers in the Karoo who have been crippled by the area’s ongoing drought.
“A simple thing like doing their hair or a little makeover restores their confidence and lets them know there are people praying for them and rooting for their success,” Warren says.
While Warren’s community outreach projects have been quite successful, Covid has put a spanner in its works. The barber has had to find new ways to work around the pandemic while bearing the health and safety of the elderly in mind.
To continue treating pensioners, he now plans to purchase a bus which he will re-purpose into a mobile hair salon. “I’ll have absolute control of the situation,” he says. “When I go out to the site, I’ll know exactly how clean the bus is.”
Having a mobile salon will mean he can “go to all the inaccessible areas,” he says. “On the last Wednesday of the month, the seniors must just have an absolute blast in our province – and I’m not talking senior discounts where they get special rates, I’m talking about free haircuts for everyone,” Warren says.
“My dream is that this city appreciates its seniors.”