SOUTH BEND (WNDU) --- (9/18/2018) - Kintae Lark grew up in homeless shelters with his mother and learned to cut his hair at age 12. That changed everything.
"I was able to control how I felt about me. I didn't have to feel bad. I didn't have to look raggedy," he said.
Fast-forward decades later, he and his wife own Inspiration School of Beauty Culture in South Bend. But Kintae takes the first-class service -- and salon chair -- to the city streets whenever he is able.
On a particular Friday evening this summer, he was near the corner of Adams Street and Lincolnway West, in front of the gas station. It was nearly midnight.
"I've worked with young people 'cause I've been a youth pastor for a long time that's been in the same sanctuary later end up killing one another -- in other words -- right here in the same spot," Lark stated, pointing to the street corner.
The once-homeless boy wants to be a positive presence in areas that have a lukewarm reputation.
"A lot of people are afraid to be out at the gas station, afraid to be out in the 'hood," he said. "We say we want to help our young people, but the ones we want to help are getting turnt out."
He continued: "Something has to give. Something has to change. I cut enough dead heads to know, helped with enough funerals to know, you know."
Many times, said Lark, the projected revitalization of a city, or a neighborhood, hinges upon federal funding and grants. For a positive change to happen, it starts and continues with every one of us.
"We can make a difference right where we are at," he said. "All we've got to do is love our babies enough, love our grandbabies enough, love our neighbors enough to want different."
Lark doesn't expect his pop-up barber shop to entice droves of future cosmetologists.
"My hope, if anything, is replication. If I can do it, you can do it," Lark said.
In other words, we can use our innate gifts to better just a small aspect of our community.
"We all got something to offer, something to put on the plate," Lark added.
Ten percent of the services performed by Inspiration School of Beauty Culture students is donated to the community.