Barbers, or barber-surgeons as they were called, have a long history of involvement with their clients' health. Barber-surgeons would not only trim and cut hair, they also extracted teeth, performed minor surgeries and, of course, practiced bloodletting. While these Middle-Aged practices have since stopped, barbers and beauticians still have a role to play in community health.
Howard Ivey is no ordinary barber. Not only has he serviced Niagara Falls as a Master Barber for 45 years, starting when he was 15, he also engages his clients in their healthcare needs and conditions.
A typical day at 1157 Cleveland Avenue in Niagara Falls can start at 6 am with Howard cutting hair and then taking a client's blood pressure while they discuss the news of the day. For Howard, who is now cutting 4 generations of hair, this is a natural fit for the barbershop he holds court over. "I have always cared about the health of my customers because I care so much about them," he stresses. "I know them well and I know they trust me." In fact, the man who needs no sign on his building because "everyone knows where I am" will soon be taking the lead in a new healthcare initiative to educate and promote diabetes prevention in Niagara Falls.
Buzzing with the Barbers & Beauticians seeks to engage, educate, and promote diabetes prevention to all residents of Niagara Falls. While Howard recognizes that he is not a medical professional, he will admit to picking up a "thing or two" over the years that allows him to talk about his clients’ health and remind them to visit the dentist or remember when someone's physical is coming up. It's all in a day's work for Howard, who was the Niagara Falls Community Center Associations Humanitarian of the Year for 2007. As he says when asked why it's so important to him, “I want my customers to be with me a long time."