Shear kindness and generosity
By Richard L. Gaw
If you think stories like “It's a Wonderful Life” only play out in the movies, there is a something that happened last week in Toughkenamon that will give the heartwarming tale of George Bailey a run for its money.
In terms of just how much he is loved and admired, 60-year-old Jerry Malolie may truly be the richest man in town. His life is an embarrassment of riches made that way by a passion for nearly everything that defines him. For the past several years, he has been a catcher for the Shear Satisfaction Cutters over-55 baseball team. He enjoys working on the 100-year-old house in New London he purchased five years ago. A single father, he is absolutely crazy about Rachel, his 11-year-old daughter. When he has the time, he enjoys going for long rides on his motorcycle, and for the past 35 years, he has been a hairdresser in southern Chester County.
For the last 15 of those, he has been one of the many happy faces at Shear Satisfaction in Toughkenamon, first as an owner and now as a stylist. Two years ago, he sold the business to Kelsey Carhart, who had been working with Jerry since she was 15, when she answered the business phone while still a student at Avon Grove High School.
“Jerry has always been someone I've looked up to,” said Carhart, who began styling at Shear Satisfaction after graduating from beauty school when she was 19 “When you go to beauty school, you learn the basics, but you really learn the business in the salon. Jerry threw me into the profession and taught me every thing he knew.”
There are few sights more disheartening to see than when an otherwise healthy person is unexpectedly felled by ill health, and when Malolie was diagnosed with liver cancer earlier this year, it shook up the heart and soul of the business. Soon after the diagnosis, he tired to carry on as much as he could, but the eventually, the pain got so severe that he was hospitalized for 11 days – two at Jennersviille Regional Hospital and the next nine at Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia.
“As far as being an active person and then all of a sudden not be able to be active, was gut wrenching. I wold try to do something and do it for 20 minutes and then have to go lay down,” Malolie said. “That's the most hardest parts of this whole episode – the lack of stamina to keep up with a daily life.”
Malolie's last day at Shear Satisfaction was July 8. Soon after, he began a journey back to health that has taken him to a seemingly endless series of chemotherapy treatments, and meetings with physicians and nurses. Admittedly, he has good days, quickly followed by bad ones. As treatments and hospital visits escalated, so too did his medical costs, and after he'd found out that his health insurance had lapsed, Malolie found himself struggling to make medical payments while also trying to pay for cost of raising Rachel.
It was all that Carhart and her staff needed to hear. Over a three-week period, they brainstormed about an idea for a fundraiser that hopefully take a small bite out of Malolie's medical expenses. After finalizing an idea for a pancake breakfast, Carhart and her staff began reaching out to everyone they knew, through e-mail blats, Facebook posts, phone calls and word-of-mouth to every client who walked through the door. Within weeks, Malolie's former clients, his current clients, industry colleagues, members of his baseball team, as well as friends and family and the entire Shear Satisfaction staff all reached out with helping hands. Some asked to volunteer at the breakfast. Others sent checks.
On Oct. 26, at a meeting hall next door to Shear Satisfaction, nearly 150 people attended the benefit for Malolie, over the course of three hours. In addition to pancakes, there was a bake sale. There was a 50-50 drawing. At the end of the event, Carhart and her staff presented their admired colleague – their friend and mentor – with a check in the amount of $12,000.
“I saw friends I hadn't seen since I was ten years old, and clients I hadn't seen in 30 years,” Malolie said. “I would have to write a novel to even scratch the surface in order to write the emotions and feelings that I was feeling. It was all quite overwhelming.”
It is not easy for an otherwise active person like Malolie to endure the truth that, according to his doctors, he will not be able to resume his normal regimen – as well as regain his full strength – for another four to six months, but it's a time he looks forward to.
“Hairdressing is an industry where you can spend as much as 12 hours a day on your feet, so when I come back, I want it to be part-time at first,” he said. “Even with the cancer, I still consider myself as a young person. I have the stamina to play doubleheaders, work 40 hours a week, and remodeling our home and taking care of my daughter. I look forward to doing all of that again.”
When asked to describe Malolie, Carhart uses the term, “laid back.” It's a style that Malolie has infused into the day-to-day life at Shear Satisfaction, and a temperament that she aspires to cultivate as the current owner of the business.
“A lot of people in this industry and are very showy about what they can do, but Jerry has always kept it to down to earth,” Carhart said. “He's kept it very real. I've always loved that feeling that Jerry made here. He's shown me what I need to be, and what not to be.
“We all can't wait for Jerry to get back.”
Are you interested in making a contribution to help pay for Jerry Malolie's medical costs? Visit www.shearsatisfaction.com for complete details, or call Shear Satisfaction at 610-268-8917.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail email@example.com.