Brooke Longest never envisioned that the simple act of cutting hair during the July 31 Grace Care Center Community Fair could be so profound. The annual fair provides dignity and hope by offering a variety of free services and products to prepare children and parents for the upcoming school year. With the lingering pandemic, this year’s event was especially impactful.
Through the generosity of hundreds of donors to the GCC Foundation, the Grace Care Center distributed brand new and well-supplied backpacks along with brand new pairs of shoes at the community fair. In addition, families were introduced to many local social service agencies, provided fresh haircuts, new bicycles and tune-ups for bicycles, health screenings and physicals, car washes, lunch, a free shopping day at the Choice Food Pantry, gift cards to the Grace Thrift Store for back-to-school clothes, and fun games.
As with every service at the Grace Care Center, the community fair is designed to impact volunteers just as much as the friends who benefit from the services provided. Longest definitely found that to be true.
Longest laughed when she said her only qualification for cutting hair was cutting her husband’s and children’s hair for years. But the simple act of cutting hair turned more profound when one family came to her hair cutting station. Longest knew the dad from seeing him for several years at the Grace Care Center Food Pantry. She said, “He’s not the easiest fella to talk with.” His typical response to Brooke when she greeted him was less than cordial. But she saw a different side of the family as she cut his childrens’ hair. As each child got their hair cut, they were helping each other, offering suggestions of what would look best and demonstrating kindness and compassion. When they left, Longest realized that now she knew the faces behind the groceries the dad shopped for each week. She is really looking forward to the next time she can greet him at the Food Pantry.
Another family came to the haircutting station and this was their first exposure to the Grace Care Center. When Longest was finished with the daughter’s hair, she jumped off the chair and exclaimed, “That was fun!” This family has come to the Food Pantry each week since then and every time Longest sees the daughter, they talk about how school has been that week and their relationship deepens.
Longest said, “We are always blessed when we serve at the Grace Care Center, but the community fair was special, and we were really blessed that day!”

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