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Dose of Reality: Former heroin addict uses hair cuts to connect with community - WRGB

by Jack Lamson

Thursday, August 12th 2021

Dose of Reality: Former heroin addict uses hair cuts to connect with community (WHAM photo).

Dose of Reality: Former heroin addict uses hair cuts to connect with community (WHAM photo).

ALBANY (WRGB) — It’s not your traditional barber shop, but on a beautiful day on Central Avenue in Albany, the sidewalk is as good a place as any.

Ashley Radliff is a community organizer with Vocal New York; the grassroots community organization works to fight the drug crisis and offer harm reduction services, among other initiatives. Radliff says,

“I was a heroin addict for a few years. I was originally addicted to pain meds everybody knows that story. I am the white middle class person who got affected. I did not go to prison because of the color of my skin.”

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Now, 6 years in recover, Ashely is giving back, cutting hair for the homeless, free of charge, adding,

“People that need job interviews women and men in treatment facilities that can’t afford a haircut, come see me ill cut your hair.”

She’ll set up shop and cut hair for one of her colleagues or their kids, as a way to break the ice. Eventually her clients come through, stopping for a haircut, a snack, or just a conversation. Radliff adds,

“This gave me an opportunity to actually have a conversation with people, actually get to call them back, actually get to work with them and have them. You know they can fight for their own rights; their voice does matter and I’m here to make sure this happens.”

It’s those conversations, and a fresh cut, that Ashely hopes will help people who are struggling.

Ashley will be out offering cuts again on Monday.