- Associated Press - Monday, May 2, 2016

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - David Furr unrolled his black bag and took out his scissors and clippers.

Furr was cutting hair, once again. Three boys had asked him, so he set up a chair inside the horseshoe at the Washington County Juvenile Detention Center.

He has cut hair at the center about twice a month for the past 16 years, said Director Jean Mack. Furr is one of many volunteers who offer services at the center, she said.

Some weeks, no one needs a haircut. Other times, Furr has cut hair for 10 children in one visit.

The boy in the chair last week had a court date coming up soon, he said. He wanted to impress the judge. He wanted to look good with a good haircut.



“Just don’t mess up my hair,” the boy said.

The boy sat still, his handcuffed hands in his lap, as Furr wrapped his barber cape around him. Deputies watched.

About 11 groups or individuals volunteer at the center, including Furr.

Other juvenile detention centers in Arkansas have volunteers and programs to help children, but Northwest Arkansas is “blessed,” said Denyse Collins, president of the Arkansas Juvenile Detention Association.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette (https://bit.ly/1XW6sV3 ) reports that Collins also is the Benton County Juvenile Detention Center director.

Northwest Arkansas has a large volunteer base, Collins said. At least 30 people or groups volunteer at the Benton County center, she said.

In Washington County, churches offer children’s ministry or Bible study, Mack said. Some churches do music and self-esteem building workshops, according to documents provided by Mack.

Some groups address human trafficking among girls and encourage people to avoid gangs, Mack said. Agencies offering workshops include the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Beaver Water District, Washington County Environmental Affairs and Writers in the Schools.

Staff members get free educational sessions, training and workshops from volunteers, Mack said. The Northwest Arkansas Rape Crisis Center provides mandatory training, she said. Other agencies train in areas such as suicide intervention and active-shooter situations, she said.

Sometimes, the training is for fun, Mack said. Volunteer Stephen Coger provided yoga instruction to staff members and children, she said.

“We live in a great town that has great resources,” Mack said.

So many people volunteer that Mack has a waiting list, she said.

“I don’t have to seek out anyone,” Mack said. “I never have to really look — people call and it fills the gap.”

Volunteers also donate to provide holiday meals, Mack said. Quorum Court members take up a collection for the children during holidays, she said.

People volunteer all the time, Mack said. They go through background checks and an orientation, she said. Faith-based volunteers also read the “Volunteer Manual,” which Mack created.

In the manual, Mack wrote: “It truly does take a community to raise our youth.”

In Benton County, services include ministry, education and haircuts.

Collins always tries to fit in new volunteers, she said.

Chaplain-mentor Bill Moore, who has volunteered since 2005, is the longest-serving volunteer at the Benton County center, Collins said. Moore has never wavered in his commitment, she said.

Furr is the same way, Mack said. He turned down payments. He is giving what he knows how to do best — cut hair, he said.

Furr graduated from barber school in 1974. He runs his own shop inside the Student Union at the University of Arkansas.

Mack plans to ask justices of the peace to honor Furr during a future Quorum Court meeting.

Furr said he isn’t looking for recognition. Most people don’t know he volunteers at the center, he said.

“I’m just a low-key guy,” Furr said. “I’m not used to the limelight. It’s kind of nice to do it without any expectations.”

Washington County center Deputy Joshua Melcher helped each boy sweep up after each haircut. What Furr gives the center and the children is a gift, he said.

“The heart of a servant is a lost thing in our society today,” Melcher said.

Furr volunteers even though he knows some children have committed serious crimes. Others just made mistakes, Furr said.

He wants them all to feel better about themselves and get something without judgment or request for anything in return, he said.

“My role there, to me, is simply to deliver them the gift of a haircut and just be friendly to them,” Furr wrote in an email. “I don’t wish to judge them.”

When each haircut ended, each boy thanked Furr before heading back to the pod. Furr smiled, gathered up his equipment and left through the center’s backdoor.

___

Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.nwaonline.com

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