Since 2013 My name is Greg Young and I am The Backpack Barber
I have called Ft. Lauderdale my home for almost 25 years. There is so much life and beauty in my city and unfortunately a huge homeless population. I have one mission and it’s so simple yet so powerful. I want to be a difference-maker in every aspect of my life but especially in my community. I may just be one man, but I have a talent, a powerful story and a passion to change the world one haircut at a time.
I was born in Jacksonville FL and then soon after moved to the Philadelphia area with my mother and brother. Nothing was ever “normal” or stable in my childhood. I had no blueprint on life and nobody to show me the way. My mother was caught up in the wrong crowds and was rarely there for my brother and myself. We moved back to Florida when I was 9. By this age, I was already rebelling, doing drugs and skipping school. I never had a typical childhood. I spent my young adult years on the streets abusing drugs and alcohol when I wasn’t locked up in jail.
I had absolutely no future and didn’t care about anyone but myself. After my last stay in jail, I decided I needed to get some sort of trade if I was ever going to do anything with my life. I worked two jobs while taking the bus to barber school. After graduating I started working in different shops here and there but I was still so caught up in my addiction to drugs and especially alcohol. I was working just to make ends meet but I was absolutely miserable inside. Addiction had full control of me and was very quickly ruining my life.
On July 7th, 2013 I walked into an AA meeting and decided enough was enough. I was completely surrendering and I was ready to do absolutely whatever it took to stay sober.
I made the choice to just keep doing the next right thing day after day. It was not an easy road by any means but I knew I could never go back to the way I had been living. As the years went by and my sobriety got stronger so did I! I learned who I was and what I was truly passionate about. It was people. I just genuinely love people and I believe everyone has a story worth sharing. I eventually was blessed enough to be able to open my own barbershop.
This was an accomplishment I had dreamed about my entire life. Having my own shop then gave me an amazing platform to get more involved in the community. I have some amazing clients who I have built relationships with that have taught me a lot. My shop is located downtown in the heart of Ft.Lauderdale. This area is also where the majority of the homeless stay. I see them passing by every day but most importantly I see their struggles because I have been there myself. I make it a point to never forget where I came from and what has lead me up to where I am now.
What’s the drive
I have always been very involved with charity events and giving back by cutting hair in local shelters and for low-income kids. That just wasn’t enough, I needed to do something different. That’s when I decided to just be fearless and go right into the middle of the homeless area and start cutting hair. I also wanted to leave them with something they definitely need. I give each man or woman a backpack filled with hygiene products, water, and a snack. Sure, it’s amazing having a clean cut when you haven’t had one in a long time but for me, it’s about the connection I make with that individual who is trusting me to give them a fresh beginning with a haircut. We talk, we share stories and we realize we are more alike than different. We are human. It’s very simple. We are no better and no less than the man next to us. This is the point I am trying to get across, we must reach out and do for others.
Why Make a Change?
EVERYONE ALWAYS SAYS “THEY NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT ALL OF THE HOMELESS IN OUR CITY”.
A Small Difference, Is Still A Difference