SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The value of a Black owned Barbershop to their community was highlighted Monday at the Springfield’s Mason Square neighborhood.

A community-wide celebration accompanied the 20th anniversary of the Final Touch barber shop at Mason Square, in recognition of Black Barbershop Appreciation Month and the emotional impact they’ve had over the years.

“The Black barbershop is known as the black sanctuary for a reason. Emotional and mental health is tied to the Black barber experience for Black men across the world and the city of Springfield. And so the listening skills and the ability to mentor, to nurture, is found in Black barbershop,” said Springfield HHS Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.

The state, the city and neighborhood leaders all turned out to honor Clarence Smith, whose barbershop has been such a positive force in Mason Square for so many years. He was deeply touched.

“I am just so happy so many for our barbers from all over the city because it’s for all of us. I would not be a barber if not for the barbers who came before me, taught me how to carry myself with dignity and pride and give back to the community,” said Smith.

Unable to attend because of an appearance on Beacon Hill, Mayor Domenic Sarno, whose father was a prominent Springfield barber, praised his father who like Clarence Smith being a staple of the community.

Mayor Sarno sent 22News the following statement, “Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris and I are proud to acknowledge, recognize and honor our Springfield black barbershops as part of Black Barbershop appreciation month in collaboration with Mental Health awareness month.  It is important to highlight the importance and the significant role of barbers in the lives of their clients and the community and personal confidants who are often a listening ear and trusted counsel during our most challenging times.  My late father, Al ‘The Barber’ Sarno, was also a staple in the community offering a listening ear and words of wisdom for his clients so this event is of special importance for me. Clarence, aka ‘The Big C’, was always wonderful to my dad too.”  

Smith added, “Barbers are building bridges and changing lives one cut at a time!”