Tri-Cities hairstylist gives 1,000 free haircuts to homeless people

Gary Zambrano became a cosmetologist in 2011, but four years later, his life was changed forever

KENNEWICK, Wash. – Gary Zambrano spends most mornings cutting hair for people in need. He sets up shop at ‘ANSIL‘ otherwise known as A New Start In Life, in Kennewick.

“It’s been very rewarding, it’s a blessing,” Gary said.

Gary volunteers his time because he knows what it’s like to be the person in the chair. In 2015, he lost his mother to lung cancer and months later, his brother passed away.

“I felt like I lost my best friend and everything in my life was with her and I was really devastated, and then four months later, my little brother dies of bronchial pneumonia in NYC. I just began abusing myself with drugs and alcohol and it wasn’t a good thing,” Zambrano said.

Gary had become a registered cosmetologist in 2011 but after the death of his mom and brother in 2015, he became homeless. So, he prayed.

“‘Hey God it’s me Gary, can you help me out of this? Help me do something? Be a part of something bigger than myself?'”

Shortly after, Gary moved to Tri-Cities in 2013. He said he was inspired by his dentist to do work for free. That’s when Gary found himself at ANSIL. As a part of their Community Empowerment Program, homeless people in Tri-Cities can stop by the facility, do laundry, get a haircut, and shower.

On October 21st, Gary gave his 1000th free haircut; Nicole Shreze was the lucky recipient.

“It’s just so nice to be able to have the haircut and be able to present yourself in society as a human,” she said.

In the past couple of years, Gary has volunteered hundreds of hours and given back to people like Nicole.

“In 2018 I became homeless because I was kept in trap house for 21 days. It makes me feel better because this is like a family to me, they have become family, when you have nobody you have them,” Nicole said.

Executive Director Tobaski Snipes said Gary offers more than free haircuts.

“Just gives that sense of dignity that you can walk around with your head a little bit higher and feel a little bit better . We look forward to having him around a whole lot longer past his 1000th hair cut,” Snipes said.

“I feel good because they feel good. I feel good because they look good,” Zambrano explained.

“There is hope and you will make it through and there are people out there like Gary that will help you every step of the way,” Nicole added.

ANSIL has several events coming up; on Saturday October 24th, they will have a movie night in the park, more information can be found here. They will also be a part of a Halloween event on the 31st and Halloween Extrava-Scara-Ganza Maze.


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