ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — If you drove down the 800 block of Portland Avenue Monday afternoon — you might have seen a cookout, a DJ, Rochester police, and the community all having a street party in front of Andre’s Barbershop.

The owner, Andre Morrison, and a team of barbers from across the city were giving free haircuts to kids ages 7 to 17. He says for him this was a call to action. “…As a responsible leader, as a responsible man in the community, it’s part of my duty,” he said.

The event he says is two-fold. “What we’re doing is giving positive examples. We’re leading by example,” he said.

Barbers from across the city came to Andre’s Monday. He wants to let the youngsters know this is a safe house — and the people in this barbershop, they can trust and look up to.

“We’re bringing awareness to them, to stopping the violence. This is in our efforts, and the energy to stop the violence,” says Morrison.

Lela Catanzano is a single grandmother raising three grandchildren. Her grandson Amari just got a fresh haircut. “When they do stuff like this, it’s an honor, it’s beautiful and I just love it. I love our community,” she says, adding for Andre and his team to do this is a blessing.

Wayland Webb Junior says not everyone in the neighborhood can afford to get regular haircuts. “It’s local, so — it’s easy for them. And it’s free food. It’s just free,” he said.

Outside was a complimentary barbeque and music. The Rochester Police Department also came to do community outreach with the customers. Morrison says the more people talk and get to know one another, the stronger the bond, — and perhaps — fewer instances of violence on these streets, especially with the youth. 

“To get their opinion, to see where they’re at, to guide them, to enlighten them…” said Morrison.

The Pirate Toy Fund also provided free toys and balloon art was done by Rose Hasan. The event was also sponsored by the Portland Ave. Business Association, Redd Horse Transport, and the Unity North East Block Club Association.