By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
MILLVILLE â€“ Barry Cephas said he thought he was being pranked when he received a phone call from the Millville Chamber of Commerce telling him he was being honored with other business leaders with its Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Partnership Award.
For more than 30 years, Cephas has owned B&B Barbershop & Salon, at 101 N. Sixth Street, and has enmeshed himself into his community in philanthropy efforts and his work as a deejay with his mobile entertainment service.
Cephas never sought out recognition for himself beyond having a deep desire make his hometown the best place for everyone. On July 27, he will take the stage at the Levoy Theater with other award winners for their work in the Holly City.
“At first I thought someone was playing on the phone,” Cephas told Front Runner New Jersey about being notified about the Business Professional Award. “Then I thought somebody was trying to get me to donate something again. The lady on the phone said I came highly recommended and asked me if I would accept the award. It caught me by surprise.
“I didn’t need an award or to be recognized for what I do. For my family, you know, my entire family was more overly happy and surprised more than I was. I have a son and two daughters,” Cephas said.
Cephas started cutting hair at the age of 12, taking clippers from his father who cut hair as a barber in the military. He learned at a young age the hustle was his gateway to money without pestering his parents.
“I was getting $5 per haircut then,” Cephas said. “That’s how I was able to make my hustle and keep up with all my name brand sneakers, clothing and all the name brand stuff. So I moved up from there.”
Cephas said at the same time, he developed an interest in deejaying. From a turntable his parents bought him, he learned the craft and graduated to mixing boards and added another turntable.
Cephas said he thought about going into the military but didn’t want to leave his child and the mother, so he made a go of it as a barber and deejay, opening his own shop in the heart of Millville.
“Once I got all my equipment together and got things right, I started renting halls,” Cephas said. “I would throw dance parties there for our generation. With the barber shop, I was responsible for other hairdressers and barbers working with me and supporting their families.”
Then, Cephas got into the mortician business when a couple of his customers died and their families approached him about cutting their loved ones’ hair before the funeral.
“One said, ‘Listen, my father passed away, and he always said you was his barber. Are you able to go to the funeral home and cut his hair?” Cephas said. “So I went from there and said, okay, not a problem. I’m going there thinking I’m a tough guy, you know. I got scared a little bit but I didn’t let them know right away.
“From there, I started a candlelight service. I invented this candlelight service because it was a way to help raise money to help loved ones get buried. I’m just a community-type guy and do what I got to do,” he added.
Cephas said his community philanthropy comes from the heart, living in Millville for most of his life and seeing a need to make the area better.
“What I’ve learned over those 30 years is that a lot of people don’t have a lot of money, but they have a lot of love,” Cephas said. “I’ve learned that if you know the love is there, you got it. I’m blessed by the good Lord, number one. Number two, I work hard. I’ve got a lot of good friends, good family support, good people that back me. If I go to them and say, ‘Listen, man, this is what I’m trying to do, this is what I’ve got going on,’ they’ve backed me 100%.
“They donate to me when I need bookbags, pencils, school supplies, coats, anything like that for kids. My friends will basically go in their pockets to help me. I do give back-to-school supplies during the school season. I have a big grill that on a trailer and I’ll pull up to do hotdogs, hamburgers, sodas, waters and stuff like that. That’s just being part of the community,” he added.
Cephas admitted he gets joy out of “blessing people.” One year, he did a bookbag drive that helped 700 children. As a former student-athlete who graduated from Millville High School, he feels a connection with the youth and the community â€“ and the challenges their parents face in raising them.
“I told myself if I’m going to stay here, I might as well try to help my roots here,” Cephas said. “I want to help these kids because somebody has got to in some way, shape or form. We can’t just leave them, you know. Then you have a lot of single parents out here who try to raise their kids. It’s rough when you raise a child on your own, and there’s not a father around to help you.
“That’s when that community needs to step to play a role. Hey, I was raised by the community. I feel as though the system has taken away from a lot of that. I still do what I got to do — the way that I was raised,” Cephas continued.
Cephas said he is particularly grateful of his mother, Frances Farrington, and fiancÃ©e for their support over the years and allowing him to give to the community. With the Chamber of Commerce honor, now the entire city will get a chance to thank Cephas for what he has given to Millville.
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