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Stories from the Chair: Local barber gives platform to emergency service personnel in new series

Tate Yohe (left) and William Leigh (right) in the Comb and Scissor Barbershop.

In a new YouTube series, the “cut” is coming at the beginning of the scene instead of the end.

Tate Yohe, known as “Tate the Barber,” is using his chair and clippers as a platform for people to share their stories. In the documentary series “Chairapy,” you can see for yourself.

“There’s something magical about the barbershop,” Yohe said. “The people that come in have these amazing stories.”

For five years, he has cut hair at Comb and Scissors Barbershop in Mechanicsburg. Many of his clients are emergency service personnel—emergency medical technicians (EMT), veterans, firefighters and law enforcement. Yohe used to be an EMT himself.

Through cutting hair, he got used to hearing amazing stories of bravery and victory as well as tough times and was always inspired by them. He thought, there had to be a way to share these with an audience.

“I had been sitting on this idea for a year and I had no idea how to execute it,” Yohe said. “Then Will walked into my life.”

When videographer William Leigh met Yohe at an event, he was unsure about his idea. Could a guy cutting hair in an old barbershop make for a show that people actually wanted to watch?

“When he walked through that door, I could tell the lightbulb went off,” Yohe said.

Leigh saw the clients’ first responder patches decorating the wall behind Yohe’s chair. The iconic old school barbershop look hooked him.

The pair has produced two episodes of “Chairapy,” with at least eight more to come. Leigh describes them as a cinematic, documentary-style blog.

Each episode features a client who tells significant stories from his or her life while getting a haircut from Yohe.

“My clients to me are more than just heads of hair sitting in my chairs,” Yohe said. “I invest emotionally in my clients, and, in return, they give it back to me.”

The first episode features U.S. Army Maj. Christina Martin. She talks about her experience as a gay woman in the army, serving during 9/11 and the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In the most recent episode, Battalion Chief Jason Lloyd of the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire gets emotional. He discusses the most memorable moments on the job in the city and the pain that comes with not being able to save a fire victim.

Yohe said the next interview will be with a member of law enforcement. He said they are not going to shy away from difficult topics and believes the episode will be relevant to the times.

“To be able to tell that story, I feel like I’m helping someone connect the dots with the people that are trying to save lives,” Leigh said.

The first episode of “Chairapy” has already garnered over 19,000 views on YouTube. Yohe and Leigh expect the momentum to continue building.

uFinancial Group is currently sponsoring the show.

While Yohe isn’t an EMT anymore, he still feels like he’s doing important work. Through “Chairapy,” he gets to share that with others.

“I went from working on an ambulance and saving lives to being a barber,” he said. “But barbering is similar. You’re helping people and taking care of people.”

For more information on Comb and Scissors Barbershop, visit their website. To watch episodes one and two of “Chairapy,” visit the series’ YouTube page.

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