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Washington's word carries weight for good reason. 
The 39-year-old Little Rock native grew up in housing projects as the oldest of three children and of a single mother. His mother, Joyce Marshall, showed Washington what it meant to work hard to better oneself and to put others first.
 
"She was a social worker, so she was always showing us how important it was to help people," he said. "She was always showing us that there were people who were less fortunate than us. And those were the people she wanted to help."
 
Marshall, who was featured in a 1994 story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, enrolled in Philander Smith College to get a degree in social work while she was living in the housing projects. She had given birth to Washington when she was just a teenager. And after having two more children, she decided at 26 that she needed to go back to school and get a degree.

She graduated in 1992 and took an unpaid internship at the state Department of Human Services to try to get her foot in the door there. About a year later, she was hired as a full-time caseworker in the department's foster-family division. Washington remembered his mother helping other mothers get ready for court and making them presentable, even if it meant lending them clothes and curling their hair herself so they could make a good impression. He remembered children with nowhere else to go staying at his house for a night or for the weekend, when his mother would take them in temporarily.


"It teaches you a lot to see people less fortunate than you, to understand that there are always people who need your help," he said. "That is something we got from our mom. That's how I live my life."
Washington's community involvement goes beyond the haircuts, He runs a nonprofit group called PEOPLE TRUST, which stands for Providing Equal Opportunities Promoting Lending Excellence.
 
In addition to the nonprofit work, Washington makes a point of transferring his passion for service and community to his students.  "This job, it's more than a job. It's service, but not just customer service, It's service of people.
 
In the lobby, Stan Mayweather, 55, eagerly waited for an appointment with "Snoop." Mayweather is not a student, but he said Tuesday that he's learned from Washington's example.

"When I first came in here, I looked like a werewolf," he said, laughing. "Now I look like I have a job. I even got a lady's number the other day."

Mayweather was homeless the first time he went via the van to the barber college for a haircut. He said he still has some things he needs to get in order, but he recently found a job and said he can feel the weight lifting from his shoulders. He laughs more now, he said.

"It takes something small to show you that everything can change. Seeing someone can offer that kindness, it opens you up," he said.


"I used to be just so tight with my money, with my things. It took me 55 years to learn it, but I'm understanding. You give when you can. I give when I can. I don't have a lot, but I give."

 

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