LYNCHBURG, Va. – When Ted & Ted’s Barber Shoppe opened in Lynchburg five years ago, Ted Jennings Sr. said the goal was to provide barbers with a space to give a clean cut and get a clean start on life.
“Some of them have been in trouble, locked up [in prison]; but I promised to help them get their [barber] license and help them get on the right track to show them that they don’t have to be in the streets trying to make money. They can make money the right way,” said Jennings Sr.
But recently, making money isn’t the biggest concern.
Jennings Sr. said most of his barbers are single fathers or share custody, so you can find nearly two dozen kids around the shop just about every day.
“It made me cry because you would hardly ever see young guys take on the responsibility to bring their kids to the workplace just because they don’t have anyone to watch them,” said Jennings Sr.
Jennings Sr. is a father himself and said, along with his wife, they’ve fostered more than 40 children and adopted nine.
They’re now creating a childcare center next door to the barbershop, where employees and customers can get affordable help.
Jennings Sr. said the state-approval program for infants should start by next month, then he has future plans for kids three and up.
Barber Donte Lewis said he brings his three kids to work all the time and is grateful for the support.
“It means everything. I need to be able to make money and have my kids here in a good, family environment,” said Lewis.
The shop will then offer free haircuts for kids at their own event on August 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“A haircut will change a kid’s life sometimes. It’s not about money, it’s just a haircut with a simple conversation [to] lead them in the right direction,” said Ted Jennings Jr.
The Jennings family hopes this will encourage Lynchburg families.
“It makes me feel good that we’re doing something to help these families stay connected,” said Jennings Sr.