GREAT FALLS — Victor Padilla, a well-known barber in Great Falls, gave free haircuts to kids on Sunday, August 21, 2022, as they prepare for the first day of school. The event was at The Man Cave in downtown Great Falls.
Padilla hosted his fourth annual “Hand Up 4 Students” at the shop; it's a community outreach program which donates free school supplies to students. Those students also were treated to a free haircut and delicious BBQ.
“I’ve done it every year, except the COVID year,” says Padilla, “I’m going to continue to do this and provide back to the community, giving out haircuts and school supplies for the people who gave back to me.” Padilla achieves outreach with the help of fellow friends and other small business owners.
Those who attended the event were touched by the generosity of Padilla.
“We just moved here, and we’re looking for a really good barber. Knowing that somebody has a heart for Great Falls, and helping other kids in the area, it made me want to come check it out. I know that his heart is in the right place, and they’re making a difference in the community,” says Melissa D’lassalas, who brought all four of her boys to get haircuts.
Padilla and his friends are involved in other charitable giveaways including the upcoming “Skatepark Jam."
“Hand Up 4 Students” will return next year, but keep your eyes and ears open as Padilla continues to plan events which give back to his city.
This isn't the first time Padilla has done it - he began in 2018 by giving free haircuts in the Parkdale community in an effort to boost the self-esteem of children, and also hoping to inspire them.
At the time, he explained to MTN News: “I was working at the Montana Club at that time and the sheriff’s coroner came to me,” said Padilla. “She sat me down and she said, ‘At six o’clock this morning, your son passed away.’”
In 2013, Padilla’s one-year-old son Riley died and Padilla was left searching for a way to fill that hole in his heart: “I pretty much coped with it by using drugs and negativity and running from the cops and getting into it with the cops and just being a rebellion.” Not long after that, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting a police officer, but that’s when things started looking up.
“I made a self-choice to say, ‘You know what? I’m going to get out of prison, but I’m not going to enter the community until I’m ready to enter it.’”
Now he’s being the change he wants to see in Parkdale—a low-income housing complex.
“I’m out here to prove all those guys wrong and say, ‘You know what, that’s all I knew until I made something else,’” Padilla said. “You will always stay the same if you don’t decide to change. I decided a long time ago that that’s not the life that I want. That’s not the life I want for my community, that’s not the life I want for my children, that’s not the life that I want to include my wife in.”
By being a role model for the younger generation, he hopes they’ll never go through what he did, and that they’ll ask for help if they’re struggling.
“You just got to reach out. Somebody will grab your hand. But if you don’t reach out, nobody is going to know you need help.”