In support of Men’s Health Awareness Month, men across the country have spent November (or Movember as it’s called) growing their best mustaches. Now, after 30 long days, Movember Movement Jax is doing what some may refer to as a public service, and offering free shaves at it’s 4th annual “Shave Off Party” being held on Friday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. on the second floor of 1037 Park Street (above Hoptinger’s Five Points location).

The History of Movember Movement Jax

The idea for this event came about after local barber, 37-year-old Rico Kombs, was first introduced to the Movember Movement by fellow community barber, Ken Moore. After learning of Moore’s father’s personal battle with prostate cancer, Kombs decided he too wanted to find a way to help harness support and awareness for the issues surrounding men’s health. Ultimately, backing the Movember movement was the perfect way for him to combine his desire to help with his professional cosmetology skills.

“I’ve always been in the barber shop,” Kombs, the owner of the barber shop Pure Image (located at 1080 Edgewood Ave. S. #4), said. “Since I was 12 years old, I said I wanted to cut hair, so when I was in high school I went and got my license in cosmetology.”

So, since 2014, he has been able to hold 3 successful years of Movember Movement Jax. Each year he begins the movement with a shave off party on November 1, and concludes with another shave off party on December 1. In the past, these events have hosted between 60 and 80 participants.

However, this year Kombs believed it was the perfect time to take his philanthropic efforts to the next level. Thus, after filing all of the appropropriate 501(c)(3) paperwork, he established a new nonprofit, the Give Freely Foundation. Designed to promote family wellness throughout Jacksonville, it is the official host of this year’s Movember Movement Jax.

“[The Give Freely Foundation] will continue to mainly support the Movember Movement, but we also want to support other charities around town,” Kombs said. “One of the other programs I intend to begin is to give free haircuts to school-age kids around Jacksonville. As a requirement the parents and kids would have to attend workshops throughout the year to try and help improve family life.”

Yet, to first ensure that the inception of the Give Freely Foundation and its sponsoring of the Movember Movement Jax’s event is a great success, Kombs intends to have two barber chairs set up to provide free shaves at the party. The shaves will be given by both Kombs and a barber friend of his. Along with the free shaves, the event will also offer cocktails from a cash bar, games of blackjack and music by Mas Appeal, an emcee/podcaster based out of Jacksonville.

Kombs added that this year’s location for the event was chosen because the Movember Movement Jax has a great relationship with Steve Williams, the owner of the building on Park Street.

“We’re hoping to max out around 180 to 200 people in attendance,” Komb said. “People should come out to support a great cause and have a great time. It’s an easy way to support men’s health.”

Why come out to the event?

Kombs expressed that this event is especially important because prostate and testicular cancer are both curable if caught early. Therefore, Kombs stressed that it is incredibly important for men to remember to schedule annual exams.

“Also, the male suicide rate is also three times that of females, and is just as important to talk about,” Kombs said.

Therefore, he wishes to invite all men into his barber shop, not only for a cut or shave, but also to create a safe place to talk. He noted that a lot of the time men don’t wish to talk about personal things like health, but being able to talk about them can relieve a lot of the stress associated with whatever they may be going through.

“Talking about what’s going on in their lives can really help change their perspective,” Kombs said.

For event sponsorship or V.I.P. information, email at GiveFreelyFoundation@gmail.com.