Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood is part of the city’s industrial district. The name originally comes from its location, which was “south of the Kingdome,” but that stadium was demolished in 2000. Locals adjusted it to mean “south of downtown” to keep it simple. []
It’s a deliberate echo of New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, where cheap spaces were converted into studios and lofts. []
About 3,000 people call this neighborhood home. It is also one of the primary locations where you’ll find Seattle’s homeless trying to make it through to the end of the day.
SoDo is also where Randy Miller does his best work as a street barber.
Miller Looks for People Who Need Some Help
On any given day, you’ll find Miller walking the streets of SoDo to see if someone needs any help with their appearance. It doesn’t typically take long to find someone in today’s economic climate.
When Miller runs over to speak with someone that looks like they need help, he’s got a small backpack with clippers and a razor inside strapped around one arm. He also carries a red camping chair for his clients to sit in while he does his work.
“Do you want a free haircut and a shave?” he’ll ask.
Some people take Miller up on his offer, while others push him away or ignore him entirely. What matters most to Randy is that he makes an effort to reach out to everyone.
Randy’s business goes by the name BeTheBlessing206. It doesn’t cost anything to receive his services, but Miller still treats each encounter as if he had a professional storefront.
“You receive more than a haircut when you’re working with me,” Miller says.
The experience is individualized to the person he helps. You might find him asking questions or just listening. He has conversations with people as they pass and talks about the Seahawks, the Sounders, or just the weather.
You can hear him sharing his personal story while working if people ask, offering an inspiring word to create a small smile. For others, he’s listening to the challenges of life on Seattle’s streets.
It doesn’t matter if someone hasn’t had a haircut in years or just needs a trim. Randy is gentle while working, carefully moving the person’s head to do the job right. He even carries Wet Wipes to clean the hair if it’s been a while since their last shower, without judgment.
Miller Still Lives in a Shelter While Helping Others
Before starting BeTheBlessing206, Miller found himself standing in front of a mirror at a day center in Seattle. Other homeless men were there with him, and they were all trying to find some work for the day.
There were clippers in his hand. Someone asked if they could use them, and Miller says he turned that person down. “You have to look out for yourself when you’re homeless,” he said, “and clippers are hard to come by.”
Then he started thinking about that moment. He was frustrated by life, the system, the government, and the organizations failing to get him out of homelessness. That led him to pray in his bunk at the shelter, wondering what he could do to get into a home.
He went up to the man who asked for clippers and told him that he’d cut his hair for him. “Love and relationships are what are missing from homelessness,” Randy said. “I think people find themselves homeless for way too long.”
Randy Miller is still homeless while providing this helping hand in SoDo. He currently lives in a local shelter and “makes it work.” It’s been that way for about 20 years. He doesn’t charge anything, but people will run to get him a slice of pizza or offer some food from their SNAP benefits.
And, if you wish to give him a hand and encourage his cause, he keeps an updated Amazon Wishlist… that’s filled with only gift cards.
[] http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19970621&slug=2545636; [] http://www.djc.com/news/re/11001553.html; []https://www.seattlesouthside.com/does-it-always-rain-in-seattle/; [] https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2022/april/i-have-to-be-a-blessing-to-other-people-homeless-seattle-street-barber-offers-free-haircuts-to-anyone