"Look The Part For Remote Start"
'A community collaboration': Brockton comes together to offer free haircuts, school supplies to city youth
BROCKTON — Although Brockton students returned to school virtually, Bri Nichols wanted to make sure students felt ready for the new school year.
Nichols, who goes by “Coach Bri Nichols” due to her work with youth in the city through her nonprofit Resilient Roses Respite Corp., put together a community event — Look The Part For Remote Start! — as part of her accompanying clothing brand, Arose from Concrete, to provide free haircuts to local youth and hand out school supplies outside of the Arnone Elementary School.
“I decided to put something together for a back-to-school event for the kids,” she said. “I figured this is such an unprecedented time with the kids going back to school for remote learning and let’s give them that little boost of confidence to look the part for remote start when they’re going back so they’re learning and feeling good about what they’re learning.”For the event, which took place Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., Nichols teamed up with barbers and hairstylists from Brockton, surrounding communities and Boston who volunteered their time to provide cuts and styling, as well as additional services with Nichols handing out vouchers for a second free haircut or style to the kids in attendance.
In addition to haircuts, the goal was to also hand out school supplies to families in need, given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, she said. Nichols and other volunteers for the event put together almost 100 backpacks with “school essentials” for the first day such as pens, pencils and notebooks, she said. The backpacks were possible through donations from groups such as The Backpack Marathon Inc. and School on Wheels of Massachusetts.
“I had planned for delivering whatever was left over to families that couldn’t attend the event,” she said. “(The backpacks) were gone in the first 30 minutes, so we still have a few school supplies here and there, but every backpack was taken by a family and that was the goal of the entire event was to really get the school supplies out there."
And the event was a success thanks to the community groups and people who either volunteered their time, sponsored raffle items and "pop-up" shopping tables or offered additional community resources, such as the Brockton Interfaith Community who set up tables for voter registration, SNAP benefits and prepackaged bags of groceries.
“It was really a community collaboration that came together before my eyes,” she said. “I had just intended to give out 25 to 50 backpacks and provide kids with some haircuts. ... It really became a community flower that blossomed. Resilient Roses and A Rose from Concrete are surrounded by roses, the idea of strength that’s in roses. They can prick you and hurt you, but they can be beautiful. I think watching Brockton come together really showed resilience in our city. We’ve gone through a lot as a city, as a country and the entire world right now with coronavirus.”
Along with showing strength in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it was also a show of strength from the Black community as most of the vendors and sponsors were people of color, Nichols said.
“There’s a lot of things that continue to happen to not show respect for the Black community and not show strength in it and I think coming together as a community. ... Having everybody come from other cities to help out with this was amazing," she said.
Staff writer Corlyn Voorhees can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter at @corlyn_ENT.