Rob Thompson uses his skills as a barber to help those in need.
A barber for 20 years, the 46-year-old was appointed by the governor to the Kentucky Board of Barbering, the organization which regulates the industry in the state. He owns Andy’s Barber Shop in Elizabethtown.
When Thompson got out of the U.S. Navy, he earned a degree in psychology to Western Kentucky University.
“I use it every day,” he said.
He was a barber while he was in college and continued when he graduated.
People tend to share with their barber. At times, it’s like therapy, he said.
“A lot of times they sit down, you ask them how they are doing and they talk until their haircut is finished,” he said.
Sometimes people just need to talk to someone, he said. Many of his clients are older with smaller social circles and come in to the shop for a sense of community, Thompson said.
“People just tell you about their lives, the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said.
Through his work, Thompson has developed a passion to help in the community.
In the past, he’s cut hair for Mission Hope for Kids back-to-school events, cut hair for the homeless under a bridge in Louisville and has shaved heads with St. Baldrick’s to raise money for cancer research.
Thompson said he empathizes with those in need.
“If you’re helpless and hopeless, it’s hard to get up,” he said.
This year, his barber shop and The Purple Rose Salon are in a competition called No Starve November. They are competing to see who can raise the most food and money for Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland through the month.
The loser takes a pie in the face. Along with those two locations, 28 other business have barrels for food donations, he said. Businesses have been willing and eager to put a food barrel in their store, he said.
Local food banks begin to have reduced inventory in December, so his efforts with No Starve November is to build the agencies built back up before supplies fall too low, he said.
In helping others, he said, time shouldn’t be an issue.
“If you can help a little, that adds up to a lot,” Thompson said.
With his latest project, all you have to do is bring a can or two of food by a business to put in a barrel.
While Thompson isn’t keen on talking about himself, he has friends who will.
Patrick Walsh, family pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church, called Thompson a “truly selfless individual” and said he goes out of his way to “make this world a better place.”
“He is always looking for ways to give back to our community,” Walsh said. “He initiated and organized a back-to-school haircut program for kids to ensure that everyone had the chance to start the year with self-confidence.”
Walsh said Thompson not only raises money for children’s cancer research, but also invests in child cancer patients.
“I have personally seen him go out of his way to visit, play with and encourage children and their families who are fighting cancer,” he said. “He has created an atmosphere in his barber shop which resembles an old episode of ‘Cheers,’ where he knows everyone’s name and you’re always glad you came.”
Most of his clients, Walsh said, probably refer to him as their friend, rather than their barber.
“My son Cody never asks to have his hair cut, but asks often if he can go see Razor Rob,” he said.
Another friend, Dick Gifford, said he is proud to call Thompson a friend.
“He is compassionate, sincere, loyal and he puts family and friends above all else,” Gifford said. “Rob is a patient and calm guy who possesses the unique ability to deal with all the high energy and special needs children, including my own, frequenting his barber shop.”
Gifford said Thompson works “a little miracle” every time the family comes in for a haircut.
“When my family and I needed help moving, Rob was the first person to insist on helping us and wouldn’t leave until the last box was on his truck,” he said. “I really enjoy his family as well because they’re as wonderful, kind and supportive as he is.
“I can honestly say Rob Thompson is first class and one of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet in my 56 years,” Gifford said.