Free supplies, training for salons, barbershops through ‘COVID-19 Stop the Spread’ initiative

Photos by Boyzell Hosey

By J.A. Jones, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — As St. Petersburg begins its slow-open amid an ongoing uptick in infection rate in Florida’s COVID-19 numbers, businesses will need to adhere to the mandated guidelines.

One community development organization is looking to assist barbershops and beauty salons in preparing themselves to ensure the safety of workers and customers.

Developing and Building Community Services, Inc. (DAB) is a nonprofit whose mission includes building the sustainability of Pinellas County by offering service programs that help impact the “conscious thinking of a community.”

Founded in 2011, DAB works independently and collaboratively to develop innovative and creative programs that meet the needs of marginalized and underserved communities.

Through DAB, founder and director Faye Watson has offered diabetes education programs, co-partnered with the Gathering of Women to open a food pantry, and has also helped create educational programs including a survey technician program at Pinellas Technical College.

The “Stop the Spread” initiative, DAB’s recent venture, was born out of Watson’s assessment of St. Pete’s popular salon and barbershop industry. She said her concerns regarding COVID-19 risk mitigation were what spurred her to start the program.

“I looked at the different points of contact in the community and tried to pick out where people are most likely to engage around each other. And I thought about the salons and barber shops, which are very common in our culture.”

Concerned about the chances of those who visit these locations, possibly becoming infected by COVID-19 and carrying the virus back to the community, Watson realized that the businesses might need assistance with supplies.

She thought the best way to help stop the spread would be to supply the salons and barbershops with the supplies they need to protect their customers, including masks and hand sanitizer.

After speaking to one barbershop owner who knew nothing about the governor’s requirements for opening, she decided a training video would also be a way to ensure that businesses could learn the correct way to disinfect and thoroughly clean their stores.

Businesses who fail to meet these requirements will be shutdown.

Watson asked long-time St. Pete barber Milton Mobley of Sports Cuts, 3166 18th Ave. S, to help her create the video. He took it seriously and brought Dr. Frederic Guerrier, MD, and videographer Boyzell Hosey in to help develop a training video that would offer professional advice on the standards and techniques businesses should be incorporating in the protection methods.

“Within the barber industry, we should all be aware of the seriousness of COVID-19 to protect ourselves, families, clients and community,” Mobley shared. “This project not only heightens awareness but also emphasizes the need to practice repetitious sterilizations. The practices expressed in this project could make the difference between life and death.”

Watson also approached Johnnia Mitchell, owner of Just B Beautiful Natural Hair Care and Beyond, 4201 4th St. N, about taking part in the training piece, and she quickly accepted.

“I live in this community, have family in this community, and serve this community,” she expressed. “It is my responsibility to do everything I can to keep a safe environment to stop the coronavirus spread. This initiative is very important.”

Tenise Crum, Cosmetology Instructor at Pinellas Technical College, shared that the need is great. “Covid-19 pandemic is a serious matter. This project is important for our cosmetology industry to help prevent the spread of diseases to our clients, community, and professionals through appropriate safety and sanitation measures.”

Watson has already registered seven businesses for the training and has spaces for another 23.

“I care about my family, my community, my clients, and especially the elderly who are at the highest risk. Safety is of the utmost importance in stopping the spread,” commented Ife Davis-Bailey, owner of Silver Lining Beauty and Hair Loss Center, 1834 49th St S, Suite B.

Hoseazell Durant, owner of Improved Image Barber Club, 330 49th St. S, agreed. “This is something that we need to practice to create perfect measures for humanity. This also can help people as well as business owners to become closer and look out for one another.”

Watson wrote a grant for the program and gained support from the Venture Philanthropy Fund at Pinellas Community Foundation for the project. The program offers free training to 30 salons, as well as taking part in video conferencing and training, and receiving cleaning supplies and masks. Participants will also receive a free infrared thermometer.

Businesses should register immediately at DABCARES.org and click on COVID-19, and then Business Resources. There they will find the COVID-19 Stop the Spread Initiative registration form.

For more information, contact Faye Watson at 727-215-1027, or email her at Faye@dabcservices.org.

To reach J.A. Jones, email jjones@theweeklychallenger.com

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