Shears & Beers a fun-filled ‘Fund-Razor’

By David Johnson
News Editor

Published: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 12:39 PM EDT

SAWYER — With the warmer days of spring approaching, someone sporting a full, bushy beard and a healthy head of hair might consider a trim.

If the pot is sweetened with the promise that your lost locks will help to raise money for a good cause, then maybe you just take it all off.

That’s what happened over and over during the “Shears & Beers Fund-Razor” held April 15 at the Greenbush Brewing Company in downtown Sawyer.

  Aaron Darling gets the left half of his beard and hair shaved off by Maggie Martin of MAK Salon & Spa during the April 15 Shears & Beers Fund-Razor at the Greenbush Brewing Annex in downtown Sawyer. - photo by David Johnson

Aaron Darling gets the left half of his beard and hair shaved off by Maggie Martin of MAK Salon & Spa during the April 15 Shears & Beers Fund-Razor at the Greenbush Brewing Annex in downtown Sawyer. - photo by David Johnson

The inaugural event supported three area non-profits — Chikaming Open Lands, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass Counties, and the Jobs for Life program run by the Overflow Christian Community Development Association (OCCDA).  The organizations were supported by the sale of raffle tickets that included top prizes such as free monthly meals for a year at Greenbush, vintage bottles of brews such as a 2012 vintage Delusion, and even the chance to work with Jake Demske to write a beer recipe and actually brew it. Those attending also could help Debbie Goforth raise funds at an upcoming cancer walk with held from the Damn Handsome grooming company.

Businesses matching donations at Shears & Beers included Sawyer Hardware & Lumber, Eagle Technologies and Seeder & Company Landscape Services.

But the “mane” event was the amount of hair that would accumulate in buckets marked with the monikers of the three supported organizations. Those getting a trim, cut or shave got to choose which container their trimmings would help fill.

“We’re weighing the hair,” noted Aaron Darling of Greenbush, one of the event’s main organizers.

None of this would have been possible without the efforts of the volunteer stylists, including Maggie Martin of Sawyer’s MAK Salon & Spa, Adam Wilson of Wilson’s Barbershop & Shave Parlor, and Robyn Bradfield of Pieced Out Hair Design Studio.

Those stepping into one of the three the very public barber chairs (about 50 in total) had their hair and beards (if applicable) trimmed all the way from “just a little off the top” to the level of such follicle-free legends as Telly Savalas, Michael Jordan, Yul Brenner and Curly Howard. None of the female participants appeared to go for a Grace Jones look, however.

“We wanted to have an opportunity to have a little fun and give back,” said Darling, who began the afternoon with a verdant beard and plenty of hair up top. His first encounter with  Martin removed all of it from the left half while leaving the right-half hairs intact — a look that approximated the T-shirt design commemorating the fund-raiser.

“I feel like I lost eight pounds.” he quipped.

Before Shears & Beers was over, Darling’s appearance was brought into completely shaved-off balance. He was part of a bearded Greenbush contingent that emerged from the event transformed.

All told, about a dozen of the brewery’s more hirsute workers made their peace with the clippers.

And it wasn’t just Greenbush hair that got cut. Rodney Carnahan, a recent arrival in Sawyer, got his first haircut in four years, a job for Bradfield that included lopping off a lengthy pony tail.

“I went to school for cosmetology and he hasn’t let me cut it said Rodney’s wife, Amber. “He wants to donate it for Locks for Love ... that’s why they braided it.”

She added that their 4-year-old son, Kalon, would kid his dad that he looked like a girl from the back.

At first not everyone was willing to go that far.

“I’ll donate to the causes, but I’ll keep my beard,” said plant manager Ryan Beach Several hours later Beach had indeed lost his beard.

But don’t worry, it will grow back. In fact, Darling said plans are already being made to start growing new beards for a 2016 fund-raiser.

The Shears & Beers Fund-Razor also marked the official 2015 release of Greenbush’s Sunspot hefeweizen ale.

Greenbush Marketing Director Jennifer Piotter enjoyed a glass of the brewery’s “summer” traditional German-style wheat beer while getting her hair cut.

“This will be the fourth year that we’ve had Sunspot,” she said, adding that it’s the third straight year it’s been released on “Tax Day” (April 15).

“It’s going out into distribution throughout Michigan, Illinois and Indiana in the next week. It will be available on draft and in bottles at Greenbush all summer long,” Piotter noted. “We brew it with Bavarian wheat yeast, it gives it sort of a banana and clove aroma but there’s no banana and clove in it. It’s nice and full-bodied ... It’s a killer summer beer.”

Other summer specials to look forward to at Greenbush include Star Chicken Shotgun in May (a west coast-style IPA) and Yogi Borealis in June (a single-malt, single-hop pale ale that Piotter described as “light and refreshing”) and a raspberry ale in August.

She said fresh fruits used in speciality brews come from sources such as Rambo’s Blueberries in Bridgman and Jolly Orchards in Coloma.

“We’re also doing a strawberry habanero beer in late may and that’s going to be at the brewery only. It’s called Atomic Ton Ton Overdrive.”

Richard Ryden of Sawyer was the first Shears & Beers hair cut “customer,” saying he likes to support Greenbush and the charities are all worthwhile, “so why not?”

At the end of the evening, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien & Cass Counties garnered the most support (a full bucket, according to Darling), and will receive $1,500 from Greenbush and Eagle Technologies. Chikaming Open Lands will receive $1,000 from Greenbush and Sawyer Hardware and Lumber for its nearly filled-uop receptacle while OCCDA is getting $500 from Greenbush and Seeder & Company Landscaping Services for a bucket that was more than half full. In addition to that, it was reported that Shears & Beers-goers donated more than $1,200 by way of raffle tickets to the organizations of their choice.

Chikaming Open Lands (COL), was represented during Shears and Beers by Outreach Coordinator Stacey LaRocco, Executive Director Chris Thompson and Land Preservation Specialist Ryan Postema.

COL serves nine townships in southwest Berrien County and has been instrumental in preserving more than 1,550 acres of open space since its founding in 1999.

The organization recently completed a “Save the Trails Campaign” that will provide a 33-acre preserve west of Red Arrow Highway and south of Holloway Drive in Sawyer.

In late December the Sawyer-based land conservancy received a donation of a conservation easement on 304 acres consisting of high-quality wetlands, woods, lakes and prime farmland in Berrien Township.

And a May 9 dedication ceremony is planned at the 34-acre Flynn Woods Nature Preserve located on East Road, across the street from the 80-acre Robinson Woods Preserve.

Chris Frank, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass, said the organization provides positive role models for about 170 children a year.

“We have about 37 kids on the waiting list right now, so the great thing about this (the Shears & Beers Fund-Razor) is not only financially do we benefit, but also we are here to raise awareness about what we do and the need for mentors,” she said.

Frank said the organization has programs such as Lunch Buddies and mentoring in many area school districts including New Buffalo and River Valley.

OCCDA  Executive Director Rick Pawloski said the organization works primarily in Benton Harbor with people who have “barriers to employment.”

Jen Piotter enjoys a haircut and her first glass of Sunspot in 2015 during the April 15 Shears & Beers event at Greenbush Brewing in Sawyer.

“Jobs for Life is an eight-week training program where we teach them how to be employees — how to look people in the eye, how to interview, how to talk about themselves ... and after that wire hire them at our own social enterprises. We have a full-service coffee and sandwich cafe, we have resale store with a book store, and we have a full-service lawn care and snowplowing business.”

Pawloski said one of the organization’s clients was once homeless and living on Silver Beach. She now has two jobs, goes to LMC and has her own apartment.

“Right now I have 40 employees that are working in our social enterprises.”