A Harlem work-readiness program that is molding at-risk youth into professional barbers is now celebrating its first anniversary. The Big Russ Barber Training Program has been training aspiring barbers for the past year and helping them get their licenses. Russell “Big Russ” Smith partnered with community advocate Jackie Rowe-Adams to make the program possible. Row-Adams, the founder of organizations known as Harlem Mothers and Fathers Stop Another Violent End, committed to saving lives after her sons were killed by gunmen.

The Big Russ program has trained 75 students in the past year. Smith said the main thing is not only to help young people develop skills but also to give them the love they need.

“A lot of these young men and women need to be hugged, that’s all,” Smith said in an interview with CBS News. “Just try to talk to them and say, look, there’s a dream we can fulfill for you.”

Rowe-Adams also plays a big part in connecting with the youth and helping them overcome emotional challenges.

“We do the social and emotional piece to prepare them for anything,” Rowe-Adams told CBS News.

Smith, who serves as the police precinct’s community council president in his neighborhood, also works to strengthen the relationship between authorities and residents.

“It got so great with some of the officers, they came and got their haircuts, so that’s when you know the gap is starting to bridge,” Smith said.

Davontae Day is one of the students who is using the program to change his life.

“I was doing the wrong things in the streets, and it just gave me a different outlook on life,” Day told CBS News. “It made my perception of things different, and I just started appreciating and valuing people’s time.”

The future appears to be bright for Smith’s program and for the students he is helping. Smith’s shop, located at 219 W. 135th St. in Harlem, trains the students three days a week. The shop is open for free haircuts on Thursdays.