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Troy and Paul

When COVID shut down the barbershop where he worked, Troy Clark was worried, but said he still had hope. “Experience-driven hope” he calls it. Because what he has been through taught him that hope and hard work can lead to a better life.

Troy first came to the Eleanor Kennedy Shelter in 2017 after 12 years in jail. He was 53 and had difficulty trusting people at the shelter. A few months later, he left to start a job at a barbershop on Route One. Unfortunately, there was little foot traffic and he got few customers. Eventually he couldn’t afford the fees to rent the barber chair or his apartment. That led him back to shelter, but this time to Bailey’s Crossroads.

When Troy got to shelter this time, he felt different. Paul Kola, NHH’s Workforce Development Manager, noticed that Troy seemed different, too. He was determined to become a successful barber. He convinced Paul that he was ready and asked for help.

“Don’t give up, there’s always hope.”

Together, Paul and case managers at Zero Model NOVA created an apprenticeship with the owner of Ultimate Barbershop in Crystal City. By July 2019, Troy was in an apartment and working at the shop. He quickly began to build a list of regulars. He also got a part-time job at Whole Foods to make sure he’d never miss rent again.

The shutdown did slow things down, but Troy had built customer loyalty. He made home visits, or his clients came to see him at his home.

Talk to Troy for even one minute and he’ll tell you how grateful he is for his life now. He’s spent the last several months mentoring clients at Offender Aid & Restoration (OAR) who have also spent time in jail, and who struggle with how to adapt after release. He tells them to surround themselves with good people, and “don’t give up, there’s always hope.” He told us that mentoring is so important because “when you got someone in your corner, it does a lot for you.”


Thank you for being in Troy’s corner!


Troy graciously shared his thoughts and experiences with Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness for their recent video “Addressing Homelessness In Fairfax County” below:


Addressing Homelessness in Fairfax County