[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a6VVncgHcY[/youtube]This week sees a new and creative initiative by Pope Francis to help the homeless.

Folks who are down on their luck can get a shower, shave and a haircut within the precincts of St Peter’s Square.

Catholic News Agency reports here

Officially inaugurated on Feb. 16, the facilities provide the opportunity for homeless individuals to have their hair cut each Monday – a day when barber shops in Italy are traditionally closed – by volunteer barbers. Meanwhile, the shower services will be offered daily, with the exception of Wednesday due to the large crowds which attend the weekly general audience.

“I cut my hair, took a shower, beard, everything. It’s wonderful!” 51-year-old Gregorio from Poland, who’s been living in Rome for 13 years, told CNA.

The homeless can often find food, but to get back on their feet they often need more than that. Here in South Carolina we have a couple of “Fresh Start” centers where homeless people can turn up, have a shower, shave and a haircut. They can also do a load of laundry, pick up their mail and receive help from a social worker if they want it.

So often work with the needy assumes that they want to be just like comfortable suburbanites. Very often they don’t. They’ve chosen to live off the grid or follow an unconventional lifestyle. Sometimes they don’t want to live in the homeless shelter or mission and choose to sleep rough or keep on the move.

A fresh start project meets them where they are, provides whatever assistance they choose and allows them the freedom to make their own way.

I’m for thinking outside the box in our assistance programs, and the Fresh Start centers are a good way to do just that.

The YouTube video shows a homeless guy getting an extreme makeover.

Read the CNA article here.