A good Samaritan who gave haircuts to the homeless in Hartford was recently asked to stop after it was determined he was "not a licensed barber," according to the Connecticut Department of Health. However because of his generosity, local officials granted him special dispensation to continue his services.
Anthony Cymerys, who is known by many in Hartford as "Joe the Barber," for the past seven or eight years has set up shop at Bushnell Park. He would cut hair for free - asking only a hug for his services.
But Wednesday night he was kicked out by city officials
"I said, sit down Louie, and I started cutting his hair," Cymerys said. "I got halfway through. And uh-oh, all of a sudden here come these two official-looking policemen and three civilians."
Some people were concerned because he's not a licensed barber. Cymerys also hands out food to the homeless, but the health department said it's unregulated.
"While we support the idea of anyone willingly and voluntarily giving their time to help needy communities, local residents have expressed some concerns about the safety and sanitation of Mr. Cymerys' practice and unregulated food distribution," Hartford city spokeswoman Nancy M. Mulroy said in a statement Thursday.
However, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, who recognized Cymerys last year for these acts of volunteerism, granted him the dispensation based on "numerous years of charitable work to the city."
"He wishes for him to continue his great and generous work in Bushnell Park," the mayor's office said in a statement late Thursday afternoon. "This does not mean, however, that others are allowed to join him - this action is solely reserved for him.
City officials said they will assist Cymerys to get a barber's state license.
Cymerys was confused as to why it's a problem, but he said he is not putting away those clippers for good.
"If it brings some joy to somebody's life, that's what it's all about. It's all about kindness," he said. "If we all do a kindness for somebody, wouldn't it be a wonderful world."
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