By Chavaria Williams
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
Chairs line the front porch of a small home where throngs of clients gather on the steps to receive fades and to sharpen edge-ups. Locals refer to 1014 Carroll Street in East Durham as the “home of the free haircuts” and waiting patiently to service them is Reverend Rodney Green and his staff of volunteer barbers.
“When I do things, I do things for God. It’s God not me,” said Green. “Somebody has to be at liberty to set the captured free because we are free indeed.”
Rev. Green is the founder of Changing a Generation Outreach Ministries, a non-profit religiously-based organization that services Durham.
Green, also known as the “parking lot pastor” began his work in 2000. Today, he is an ordained minister, author, poet, motivational speaker and community leader.
Green began his own ministry because he said he is a headstrong individual and is very passionate about what he envisions becoming a reality. He said he believes his calling is to showcase his compassion through his ministry and give the needy more than just a kind word.
“When you feed a man, they’ll eat it and throw it away, but when you cut his hair you give him self-esteem and it builds character,” said Green who added he strongly believes in uplifting the needy, whether it is counseling or feeding them.
Green spearheads five major events throughout the year. They include Back to School, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and seasonal haircuts. The haircuts are generally given in the fall on Mondays, but are offered year round for these events.
The upcoming annual Easter Cookout and Easter Egg Hunt event is scheduled for Monday, April 5. The venue will be Hillside Park and activities will include free food, haircuts and an Easter egg hunt. Supporting the event is roughly 16 organizations and businesses. Green says he only hosts five events a year because they are time consuming.
Born and raised in Durham, Green’s compassion for the less fortunate bore out of the experience of being one himself years prior.
“Sometimes we find a distant road to go down,” said Green. “My life was selling drugs, using drugs, now when I look back it was just something that I went through so I can care about people and be compassionate. How can you get a job if you do not have the training?”
After doing a complete 360 and changing his life, Green earned a Bachelor of Theology in 2004 and a Masters in 2009 from Union Christian Bible College.
Green is now a North Carolina licensed educator who offers counseling on venereal diseases and HIV. He is accredited by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in vocational training for inmates and is allowed to counsel them.
In March 2006 he was officially certified by the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. organization, after completing his “Mentoring the 100 Way Curriculum.” His list of accolades is long and he has been featured in various magazine and newspaper articles.
“My proudest accomplishment is helping the kids because they are the future and doing so gives a good feeling,” said Green.
Females are not excluded from the work of the ministry. He has partnered with the local hair salon, Studio 10. Located on Fayetteville Street, the hair salon services female clients. Green said that some of his past events have been hosted at the salon. Pam Holloway, the salon owner, was unavailable for comment.
Volunteers from Daydreamers Barber Shop, local barbers and Park West Barber School, all in Durham, account for the barber staff. The staff supplies its own equipment and tools. Green said that in a three year span dating from 2004, the staff had cut the heads of 10,000 people.
Green’s ministry work has had an effect on the people he has come into contact with through the years.
Omar Brimley is a local volunteer barber who has volunteered twice since first beginning last May when he relocated to the neighborhood.
“I do my best to help out,” said Brimley. “I have always been a man of the gospel and was raised in the atmosphere.”
Beyond haircutting, the ministry offers an services including marriage counseling, job placement for the unemployed, and free clothes from the Mission House’s Clothing Closet. It also provides rehabilitation services for newly released inmates, free blood pressure checks by volunteer medical students, and food distribution to nursing homes, churches and organizations.
In 2003, Green opened a storefront ministry on East Main Street where he was able to provide three meals a day to the less fortunate. In 2005, he relocated to a house off Holloway Street.
Initially, events were held in buildings, schools and other odd locations around town and the home became known as the Mission House.
Currently, Green works closely with the North Carolina Food Bank and Inter-faith Shuttle, nursing homes and other food preparation companies.
No longer stationary in an actual church, Green travels extensively around the nation preaching. He has preached in South Carolina, Las Vegas and is awaiting an invite confirmation to New Jersey.
Locally, he has a television show on channel 18 on Sundays at 4 p.m. Green is no newcomer to television. In 2005 his ministry was the first ever on the Word Network, a black gospel television network. The 21-day series was entitled, “Undeserving Ministries Doing Extraordinary Things.”
Green said he relocated to Carroll street from Holloway because he liked the peace and quite of that section of the city.
The list of donors for Green’s ministry includes local companies, Duke University’s ministry, churches, and residents.
“I have a slew of donors,” said Green. “There are too many people to remember because I will leave somebody out. I have met a lot of people and we have done a lot of work together.”
These donors attest to Green and the work of his ministry.
“His ministry is good and he helps a lot of people,” said Peggy Tapp, a donor and restaurant manager who is ordained as the “mother in the ministry” by Green. The family operated business she manages is a thriving establishment on Fayetteville Street called the Chicken Hut.
Tapp said the partnership is roughly eight years old and that the Chicken Hut provides mainly food and beverages for certain events.
The ministry’s on-site services accommodate the elderly residing in senior citizen residences. These include the Oldham Towers, J.J. Henderson Housing Center, Durham Hosiery Mill Apartments- Senior Living, Morehead Hills Senior Apartments and Carver Living Center.
Funding is graciously provided by various donors and with the help of Duke University Chapel Ministry’s Crop Walk, an organization supporting nationwide hunger initiative to stop hunger, amongst others.
Last year Duke University donated one thousand dollars and the Crop Walk, an organization supporting a nationwide initiative to stop hunger, donated a percentage of it’s earnings to the ministry.
Green said that although he is pleased with the donations, he believes there is never enough for the work needed to be done.
“The greater need is always greater because homelessness and hunger is everywhere,” he said. He added that he feels he will never be underfunded because he has Christ on his side.
Information about ministry events gets around generally through word of mouth or flyers. However, Phyllis Coley, publisher and editor-and-chief of Spectacular Magazine, offers free advertisement for the ministry which helps to reach a broader audience.
Green’s ministry is now ten years in the making and he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
Green credits his mother for his achievement and said she instilled in him that he could become something special.
“I always wanted to help people and seeing them struggle made me want to help even more,” said Green.
“I don’t necessarily plan to retire, just go on to bigger and better things because I am ready to pastor a church,” he said.
“The Lord told me to work 10 years, establish myself and work up from the foundation- not out, but up,” said Green. “Just like you build a building, it’s built upwards.”
Green said that God uses the willing vessels to do his will and that he must do what others will not.
“People have zero tolerance for people who need a kind word and most people won’t go to the highways and byways to help,” he said.
Caption: Reverend Rodney Green uses his vehicle to spread the word of his ministry and do the work of God. Photo by Chavaria Williams.