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Donna Terrell Special Report: Shear Determination

Arthur Hooker got off the streets using a pair of hair clippers and shears.
Arthur Hooker looks on at the beds he once slept in while he was homeless.
Arthur Hooker looks on at the beds he once slept in while he was homeless.
It was rough, it was depressing. It was something I wasn't used to it at all.
Homelessness is continuing to grow in Arkansas.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of homeless people grew by 38 percent in 2013 compared to 2010.

But there's good news in the mix.

Last year, the homeless population dropped by 73 percent in Arkansas Delta region and it dropped by 25 percent in Little Rock.

While there are many programs to help people get on their feet, some find other means.

Arthur Hooker got off the streets using a pair of hair clippers and shears. The 24-year old is on the road to becoming a barber.

He's enrolled at Little Rock's Washington Barber College, and says he loves what he's doing right now.

But not so long ago, Arthur was down on his luck and homeless.

"It was rough, it was depressing," he said. "It was something I wasn't used to it at all."

Arthur had escaped the mean streets of Chicago and drove to Little Rock hoping for a better life living with his cousin, but things didn't work out.

Next thing he knew he was on the web searching for homeless shelters and went to the first one that popped up — the Compassion Center.

Arthur was homeless for months and at times found himself sleeping outside on the streets because he failed to get to the shelter before the cut off.

Then one day, someone from Washington Barber College came by asking homeless people if they wanted a free hair cut and style.

The college typically makes the offer because it helps the students by giving them practical experience and picks up the spirits of those living on the streets.

For Arthur, it would be life changing.

Arlo Washington owns the barber school.

"I tell students we deal with people from the gutter most to the utter most," he said.

Washington said he was immediately impressed with Arthur.

"It was something about him that made me take interest because he was really sincere and genuine," he recalled.

Washington helped him get started by giving him a few bucks.

Today, Arthur is halfway through his course work to getting his barber's certificate.

Arthur is already returning the favor, shaving heads of some of the people he bunked with all those nights at the Compassion Center.

When asked about how helping homeless people makes him feel he responded, "I feel like that's my purpose in life, to help people. It makes me feel good."
 
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