Tommy Andrade’s mantra is: “If you want to make an impact, you don’t have to change the whole world. You can plant a seed in your own community.” For him, this means supporting kids and families in foster care. Tommy is a barber and will offer free haircuts to kids in foster and kinship care every other Sunday at Rain City Barbershop. He also plans to donate 25 percent of his earnings the first week of every month to Amara.
“I feel like this is a field people don’t hear enough about,” he said. “I just want to give back and have an impact on kids to help them have a better life.”
Foster care is personal for Tommy. Growing up in Texas, he had friends who were raised in foster care. One summer when he was 16, Tommy experienced homelessness and lived in the woods. His friends’ foster father took him in and got him back into school. Today, Tommy is a college graduate who began his career as an engineer at Tesla in Austin. He and his foster father are still in touch.
“I had money, but I was time broke [at Tesla],” Tommy explained. He missed spending quality time with his wife and son. After talking with his former Big Brother (from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program), who was a barber, Tommy was inspired to follow in his footsteps and become a barber too.
Tommy and his family moved to Washington last June and he started cutting hair at Rain City Barbershop in West Seattle. This is where he got the idea to help kids in foster care. “I feel like real change starts in your own community. I’m starting small. I can do free haircuts. And I want grow things over time so I can look back in 20 years and see that I’ve made a difference for kids.”
“We are excited to see Tommy’s passion to support kids in foster care. Too often, kids in care are overlooked and forgotten about, so it’s special when members of our community have creative ideas to make a difference and improve the wellbeing of kids,” said Ruth Tollefson, Amara’s Chief Philanthropy Officer.
Even though Tommy’s free haircuts for kids in foster care effort is just beginning, he’s already getting a lot of attention. New customers are coming in and saying they want to help support kids too and are getting haircuts, sometimes for the first time in 30 years. King 5 News reported the story too, and now the word is spreading fast.
On May 26, 2023, Tommy and his barber partner Jeff Chou opened their new barbershop, Southpaw Barbershop at 3614 California Ave. SW in West Seattle, where free haircuts for kids in foster and kinship care will continue. They ask that foster and kinship families who would like to get free haircuts for kids please call or email to set up a Sunday appointment. Southpawbarbershop206@gmail.com 512-595-9545
King 5 News covered this story. You can watch the story here.