Everyone can bless their community in their little way, just like Damian Villanueva did.
This young barber from Santa Ana, California, likes to give back to his community by providing free haircuts to street vendors and sharing nice conversations with them.
But it was different when it was time for Bartolo Huate Pacheco’s haircut. The young barber remembers Pacheco, the paletero or popsicle vendor from El Salvador Park, and how he watched him work day after day when he was younger.
At the back of his mind, Damian always knew he would do something for this hardworking man someday.
Armed with a chair and his haircutting tools, Damian set up shop curbside and gave a free haircut to his neighborhood’s beloved popsicle vendor.
In a video Damian shared on Instagram in 2022, you can see him and Pacheco talking about work and life.
Pacheco shared how it’s been hard for him and his family when the pandemic hit. He lost loved ones to COVID-19. Pacheco had COVID-19 himself, and being sick meant not being able to work for almost two months.
To help his friend and other street vendors in the neighborhood, Damian gave Pacheco $100 in cash and set up a GoFundMe account.
Pacheco truly appreciates the gesture and still gets emotional whenever he recalls that memorable free haircut and cash gift. It warms his heart to know that a young man like Damian listens to what he has to say and seeks his advice.
But this is not where the heartwarming story between the barber and the popsicle vendor ends. Ever since that summer, Damian realized that he still had more surprises to give, particularly to his favorite popsicle vendor.
Damian had noticed that Pacheco was hiding his smile whenever they talked. He didn’t want to smile widely because of his teeth, which according to him, were ‘kind of messed up.’
Pacheco shared how often he would get comments from his customers about his teeth, or lack thereof. One time, a young customer just lost his tooth, and Pacheco joked that both of them now didn’t have teeth.
Instead of laughing, the young boy ran off in embarrassment, but not before Pacheco reassured him that his teeth would grow back someday. Unlike his.
But all that’s about to change. As it turns out, Damian is not yet done helping Pacheco.
Although he has been regularly popping up in the neighborhood to provide free haircuts to street vendors, Damian had also been busy arranging for Pacheco to receive a new set of teeth.
He reached out to a friend of the family, Dr. Sofia Rodriguez of South Ocean Dental, who felt compelled to help after learning about Pacheco’s history and current situation.
For three months, Damian drove Pacheco to his dentist appointments and made sure that his friend won’t pay for anything to get his much-needed dentures.
Pacheco has never seen a dentist or been to a dental clinic before, so it was important for Damian to accompany his friend to his appointments at a clinic where they spoke Spanish so Pacheco would be comfortable.
Now, Pacheco feels more confident and doesn’t hesitate to give everyone his new winning smile, which he’s still getting used to.
Damian understands the importance of gratitude, and he’s so grateful to the people who have been supporting him in this little project to give back to the community.
With the community’s support and generosity, Damian hopes to achieve his ultimate goal for Pacheco: permanent implants in a year’s time.
Because of this big-hearted community, we’re confident that Damian can hit this goal easily and truly change the life of Pacheco and the other street vendors he’s helping out!