Inmate turned barber hosts benefit for woman in need - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Inmate turned barber hosts benefit for woman in need


A former inmate turned barber is giving back to the community, by helping a Fox Valley woman he just met for the first time.

Barber Rich opened a barber shop in August 2017 after he rehabilitating his life following a 12 and a half year prison term. It has been a successful venture.

He offers free cuts to veterans, kids and single moms, helps to feed the homeless, and holds fundraisers for those in need – including a fundraiser last October for a 6-year-old boy battling Leukemia.

This weekend – he’s at it again.

“It’s not about who you know and who you don’t know, it’s just about helping somebody that’s in a bad spot,” Barber Rich said.

This Sunday at Rich’s Barber Shop in Oshkosh, all buzzes, trims and haircuts are dedicated to a woman in need.

“I was diagnosed at about 15 or 16, with mixed connective tissue disease, which then resulted in scleroderma. It's an autoimmune disease, which affects your tissue,” says Tara Schommer. “When I first got it, it was kind of more like external, but then it went internally. So pretty much any organ now can pretty much harden, to the point where I can't breathe.”

After hearing that Schommer’s treatment plan totals $14,000 per month, Barber Rich knew he needed to do something.

“I don't know Tara, but she was just a person in need, that I felt we should do a benefit to help her with the cost of medication,” he said.

That means the profit from every haircut given at Rich’s Barber Shop this Sunday goes directly to Schommer.

“It really goes to show how great the community ... And just the support of not only my family, friends, or just people that don't even know me, or know my issue, are willing to step up and help out,” she said.

After his 12-year term in prison, Barber Rich credits his barber school with changing his outlook, and shifting his focus to help others.

“The person that I am today is not who I used to be. So giving back now, it just makes me feel better as a man and as a person,” he says.

This benefit comes ahead of another benefit for Schommer, to be held Saturday April 14 at Tanner’s in Kimberly. It will run from 1:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., complete with food, music and an auction, all on Schommer’s behalf.

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