You may recall the story of a young man named Juan Carlos Montesdeoca, a cosmetology student from Tucson, Arizona, who decided to give back to his community in an amazing way. In honour of his mother, who had lost her hair during cancer treatment, Montesdeoca decided that he would offer free haircuts to the homeless people in his city.
Who would have thought that this selfless act of kindness would come with the risk of destroying his future career in cosmetology before it even begins? A witness has filed a complaint with the state of Arizona’s Board of Cosmetology, alleging that Juan Carlos had been practicing cosmetology without a license issued by the state, which is technically true, since Juan Carlos has not yet completed his program.
This young good samaritan is now under investigation by the state on the grounds of “practicing without a license,” highlighting the absurdity of the government taking basic human rights, licensing them, and then selling them back to us. While I know the practice is meant to ensure quality and to prevent people from making a profit without first paying for their certification, in this instance, that doesn’t apply, since these haircuts were being donated for free. What’s more, those who received them were willing participants, so why is this even an issue? Is it illegal for a mother to cut her child’s hair because she doesn’t have a license to do so?
Now, Juan Carlos may never be able to receive his license in cosmetology at all, though he says feels good about what he has done to help the homeless in his community, despite the investigation. Some of the women he donated his services to had gone years without even a trim. He gave out dozens of free haircuts to those in need because he wanted to honour his mother’s memory. He did it, as he says, “Out of the kindness of my heart. Out of the memory of my mom, because she lost her hair.”
Juan Carlos himself was actually homeless for a brief period, so he understands the struggles all too well. After his school, Regency Beauty School, closed down last September, he was forced to take a break from his studies. With the extra time on his hands he gave away free haircuts to those in need and was able to practice the skills he had learned in school.
In response to the investigation, Juan Carlos decided to write a letter to the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology defending his case. TheFreeThoughtProject was able to obtain a copy of that letter:
My name is Juan Carlos Montes De Oca. On Saturday Jan 28th 2017 at the downtown library in Tucson AZ, I assisted Ronnie Varela and Katie Burnett Licensed Cosmo[tologists] and did FREE Haircuts for the Homeless. We had donations of barbicide wipes and EPA registered disinfectant for our combs many which were all disposable from community donations and practiced proper sanitition procedures, disposable combs. Gloves etc. . . .
As a community we came together to uplift, encourage, offer LOVE and remind our homeless that they are not forgotten. . . . When i was studying cosmetology I heard there it was ok to offer free haircuts to the homeless as long as there [sic] was a licensed stylist present. When Regency Beauty Institute shut its doors, I had to wait to go back to school which I am in the process of doing so now. . . .
I have great LOVE for my community and now understand that i need to be licensed in order to provide any Hair services for the homeless. Now I am fully aware of the risks involved and plan, if given the chance, I want to become an educator of barbering and cosmetology someday. Thank you.
What do you think? Is this man guilty and does he deserve to be kicked out of school?
If you would like to support Montesdeoca and his cause, please visit and donate to his GoFundMe account.
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