Talk to any seasoned hairstylist and they’ll share a single thing: their enthusiasm for their profession. Long Beacher Dustin Berlin is no different, having followed in the footsteps of his mother—but the way he shares his talent certainly is.
First, he worked for international hair giant Toni & Guy. Then, he shifted into educating about cosmetology and hair dressing, noting that he “nted to be a part of what sparked others passion for their career, and in turn see them come into their full potential. I found as I began to come alongside others, to help them grow and develop.” Then, he served abroad in Australia and Taiwan and something altered within him.
“I had a complete regime change,” Berlin said. :I began to see others through different eyes. I found that the power of generosity, even in just one moment, can drastically impact people lives. I knew I wanted that—impacting lives—to be my full-time job. People are valuable, people are simply desperate to be loved, to be seen. My heart became alive, something changed for me. I found my passion.”
That passion? The You First Project, where Berlin wrangles his own talents and any other hairstylist who will donate the time, to provide haircuts to those less fortunate, specifically battered women, the sexually abused, and those experience homelessness. In his most recent event at the Breakers Building last month, a three-hour session—complete with free haircuts, styling, manicures, make-up…—brought a new identity to women who have gone through the horrifying experience of domestic violence.
“As a team, we hope to create a culture here in Long Beach,” Berlin said, “a culture in which families have the opportunity to connect and bond in a common act of social good. A culture in which our children grow up being intentional about loving others and spreading generosity no matter where they go. Specifically, we want to help lower the rate of domestic violence and homelessness in our community by coming alongside individuals who are rebuilding their lives through rehab programs and to see them through.”
Berlin initially had hopes of holding his stints in Lincoln Park but upon, in his words, educating himself about the realities of tackling homelessness, began to realize that perhaps his efforts to help would exacerbate the precise situation he was trying to alleviate. After a chance encounter withAdam Shandrow, the Facilities Director of the Breakers, Berlin not only found himself a place to host his first You First event in DTLB, but was also invited to be the resident hairstylist for the Solid Landings rehabilitation centers here in Long Beach.
“At our very core, we believe in the power of unity. We all need each other, it’s powerful when we come together. We believe that an act compassion is infectious and creates a ripple effect that can stretch far beyond the first initial act of kindness. Our hope is to see hope ignited in the hearts of those who have lost sight of their value in this world as an individual. Our hope is to inspire those who have stopped dreaming, to dream again.”
For more information on your first, visit: www.YouFirstProject.org