Baltimore’s spate of surging violent crime claimed seven lives in five days this past week. On Halloween alone, seven people were shot, four of them dead. Among the victims who were wounded was Troy Staton, a well-known barber and community organizer who owns New Beginnings Barber Shop in Hollins Market.
“Am I upset? I’m upset with the system,” Staton, who was shot three times in the back of the neck that afternoon, told The Sun.
Known for hosting community health clinics, art shows, block parties and more at his Southwest Baltimore shop, Staton was back at work on Thursday, the paper reported. Today, he launched a fundraiser—not to assist him, but to further his nonprofit Luvs Art Project, which he launched 10 years ago.
A GoFundMe page aims to raise $5,000 (more than $1,750 of which has already been collected, as of this writing) for the LuvsArt Project to “to curate an art exhibition and series of community dialogues about violence in our City,” the page says.
“A bullet is not going to stop me,” Staton wrote. “I’m ready to elevate even further, to keep pushing for our community, especially for young men like the man who shot me, whose life circumstances lead them to feel they have no option other than violence. I want to reach them and show them that there is another way.”
Beyond showcasing student art and offering a curated library of art books, the Luvs Art Project has also offered suits on loan to job seekers, and perhaps most famously has served as a site for regular community health screenings, thanks to an ongoing partnership with Kaiser Permanente and its mobile health van.
Staton’s ingenuity with bringing health screenings to underserved Baltimoreans in particular earned him recognition in last year’s Light City conferences, where he hosted a 40-minute talk on how to mobilize black barbershops and salons to “promote healthier communities.”
“You’ve got to bring it to the people, to where it’s needed most,” he said in the days leading up to the conference.