There’s a new hair salon in Israel.
But there’s a lot more to the story than just cutting and styling.
And it’s got an important Westport connection.
Talpiot Village serves 1,000 at-risk children and families in the Hadera region. There’s foster care, daycare, a therapy center, a zoo with animal petting, sports facilities and a synagogue. Programs include homework assistance, choir, dancing, photography and drama.
Now there’s a Sharkey’s Children’s Hair Cutting Vocational School too. The innovative space offers special activities for parents and children; recreational and creative arts programs; birthday parties, and joint activities with the community.
The salon is the brainchild of Scott Sharkey, founder and owner of the franchise operation Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids. It’s headquartered in Westport, and there’s a thriving Post Road location here too.
Sharkey learned about Talpiot in 2008, on a trip with Chabad to help dedicate a playground donated by Westport’s Kaner family. He was so moved by the children’s stories that he decided to do something to help.
It would be an exact duplicate of a Sharkey’s kids’ salon. But this would have no sales. It would exist as a vocational school — to teach teenagers a trade.
Sharkey devised a fundraiser — the first he’d ever done — hoping for $150,000. Two months later, the stock market crashed.
So did Sharkey’s dream of helping the children of Talpiot.
Eight years later — in May of 2016 — his daughter Julia visited some Westport friends studying in Tel Aviv. Sharkey met her there.
The first stop was Talpiot Village. He wanted her to experience the same emotions he felt, 8 years earlier.
He and the director talked about rebooting the project.
Two years later, it’s now a reality.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony came almost 10 years to the day from Sharkey’s first visit. He was there with his father-in-law, and Chabad members who had been there on his first trip.
The Sharkey’s vocational school is already training youngsters to become cosmetologists. The director proudly adds, “It’s the best-looking salon in the region.”
Sharkey encourages his franchisees to donate a percentage of each cut to charity. Kids get tokens, then choose their favorite charity from an ever-changing list like the Humane Society, Make-a-Wish Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
By donating an entire salon, he’s set the bar high. Scott Sharkey is clearly a cut above the rest.