OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Open Door Mission (ODM) has served the metro for 67 years. To help combat homelessness and poverty, it developed three different outreach centers.
Those centers provide food, clothing, and household items for those in need living paycheck to paycheck.
It is in dire need of volunteers at its three area outreach centers. ODM went from averaging 14,000 volunteers a year to just 2,000 since the pandemic began, but for more than a decade they've been able to count on an Omaha woman who has used her hairstyling talents to make a difference for those in need every Thursday at the Timberlake Outreach Center. That reliable woman is Hyeyong Watson.
"Everyone loves that feeling of a fresh haircut," said Candace Gregory, Open Door Mission President and CEO.
That feeling is even better when the haircut is free.
Watson has spent every Thursday for more than ten years giving those in need just that.
"We are so grateful that she has a skill set that is valuable to our guests experiencing homelessness and our consumers that live in poverty," Gregory said.
She says around 30 to 40 people come to the Timberlake Outreach Center to get that free cut each Thursday.
Watson says that when she first started serving at Open Door Mission her customers would try to tip her.
But she didn't want this, so she named her service the "Million Dollar Barber Shop;" unless it's a $1 million tip, she says doesn't want it.
But the name changed not too long after a visit from one customer.
"After he got the haircut, do you know what he says? 'I don't have a million dollars but I have a million blessings for you.' Oh my gosh — that touches me!" said Watson.
It's been Million Blessings Barber Shop ever since.
For Watson, it's all about the relationships and sharing her love for God.
"The way that Mrs. Watson makes you feel special; she's talking to you, she's engaging with you," said Gregory.
Among the long line of folks getting their haircut last Thursday were 82-year-old twins Ronald and Donald.
"Yeah oh it's great. It's wonderful!"
"My hair is touching my ears or it's down my neck, and for many of our elderly they can't reach behind to get their neck and don't have the steady hands any longer,” Gregory said.
Four children from a family of nine are adjusting to their new home in the U.S. after being evacuated from Afghanistan.
"OK, you are going to be sitting up here," Watson said to one of the children.
"I can't imagine what the family would have to pay for haircuts," said Omaha resident Alyssa Thomas. "So I think Mrs. Watson is wonderful. That she does this for free is amazing. That she volunteers hour after hour and asks for nothing in return, and she's so warm to each of the clients."
When she's not cutting hair, she helps stock the shelves in the outreach center with food and clothing.
"One of a kind. Diamond in the rough. We wish we had more Mrs. Watsons," Gregory said.
The Open Door Mission holds a special place in Watson's heart.
"Whenever you come over here you see each other and how we all serve. I'm calling this place the amazing place," Watson said.
It’s an amazing place, blessed by an amazing person, making a difference one snip at a time.
"Think of all of us that have gifts and talents and we just hide them," Gregory added. "This is a perfect example of putting what she has to good use in our community and truly making a difference."
Gregory says Watson is extremely humble and didn't want credit for her work, but agreed to do the story because she hopes it inspires others to serve and give back.
If you are interested in volunteering or making a donation, visit opendoormission.org.