Dallas nonprofit uses converted buses to offer free haircuts, showers to those in need

·6 min read

According to Jordan Allsup, serving the community goes beyond those who may be in clear need, including those who are house-less or veterans. To Allsup, serving the community means helping anyone who is a neighbor.

His organization, CleanUP, which began with volunteers distributing free meals, has grown into an initiative that provides showers, haircuts, clothing and auto care, and will also soon have a mobile classroom to help people take online classes and receive certifications — all for free.

Jordan Allsup with CleanUP give a haircut to Ja’Liyah Rhodes, 5, on a bus converted to a barbershop Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.
Jordan Allsup with CleanUP give a haircut to Ja’Liyah Rhodes, 5, on a bus converted to a barbershop Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.

“I’ve come to understand more of what CleanUP is doing. It’s fighting for justice. It’s unjust that there’s people who are hungry. It’s unjust that people don’t have food or can’t shower. It’s fighting for a community,” Allsup said, adding that when he first launched his organization, it was narrow-focused by targeting the population experiencing homelessness.

“CleanUP has transitioned into a model where our motto is, ‘All neighbors are welcome’,” Allsup said. “A neighbor is anyone who is willing to receive. It’s a choice to be a neighbor, and we want everyone to be a neighbor without any barriers.”

A mission to serve others

In the beginning of 2020, Allsup was having his best period yet with his small business, which had been running for about a year and a half and helped other companies and organizations develop.

That was until COVID-19 hit.

He began to pray about his newly-launched business that was struggling, but his prayer changed shortly after he realized he wasn’t the only one having difficulties.

“Lord, use my hurt to do things for you,” Allsup said. “Show me someone who is hurting more than me.”

Allsup would say the prayer often. And within minutes of asking God for someone to help, every time, it would be delivered, he said.

People left notes for the CleanUP crew on a bus converted to a barbershop Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.
People left notes for the CleanUP crew on a bus converted to a barbershop Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.

His heart became “captivated,” when he would see someone struggling, and he would be eager to give a helping hand. But sometimes it wasn’t black and white that someone needed help. Other days it would be coming across someone and feeling the urge to walk up to them and say, “Hi, my name is Jordan. I felt like I needed to talk to you. Is there anything I can help you with?”

And that’s when CleanUP began.

CleanUP is born

Allsup was volunteering with Gateway Church, making regular appearances at a local jail before he said his “mission and vision in helping others evolved.”

The name “CleanUP” came into mind after one of his prayers, and from there he took his first step, which was making sandwiches, packing ice coolers with water and distributing the small food kits to nearby communities. And from there, it’s been a series of small steps, one after another, Allsup said.

Children’s clothing and shoes are laid out for people to take during a CleanUP event Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.
Children’s clothing and shoes are laid out for people to take during a CleanUP event Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.

He spent months, between May and September 2020 trying to build relationships with people who were experiencing homelessness. Soon, he saw that the next need he wanted to help meet was by providing showers to those who may not have easy access to them.

“But it wasn’t as simple as offering someone a shower in your home,” Allsup said, adding that it’s a vulnerable experience.

An idea popped into his head — one he never anticipated he would do — and by December 2020, Allsup purchased a motor-home that he moved into and would soon become the center of his organization, where he would offer his home, literally, to those in need.

Jordan Allsup with CleanUP gives a haircut to Jaiden Rhodes, 7, as others wait for their turn on a bus converted to a barbershop and laundromat Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.
Jordan Allsup with CleanUP gives a haircut to Jaiden Rhodes, 7, as others wait for their turn on a bus converted to a barbershop and laundromat Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.

“I was offering a house environment where I was being vulnerable, too,” Allsup said. “I was bringing them into my home where I eat and sleep. I was trusting them as much as they were trusting me.”

Allsup remembers the first person who used the mobile shower in his home, a man named Randall, who Allsup still sees and serves about twice a week to this day.

Allsup met Randall early into the COVID-19 pandemic, and his favorite story is that Randall was the first person to try the shower at the end of 2020, and the last person to use it before the new year.

The following year alone, in 2021, Allsup said CleanUP provided over 1,400 showers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

All hands on deck

CleanUP continued to grow, thanks to help from other volunteers and donations.

CleanUP’s database is made up of about 300 volunteers, all of whom work in different “seasons,” Allsup said. About 10% of those volunteers are currently active and helping with the initiative.

People wait in a line to get children’s haircuts from Jordan Allsup with CleanUP on a bus converted to a barbershop Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth.
People wait in a line to get children’s haircuts from Jordan Allsup with CleanUP on a bus converted to a barbershop Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth.

The organization first began with help from a lot of local families, where one family would challenge another into who could make more sandwiches, but has since grown, where a partner now helps provide manufactured and sealed food to give out.

The organization, in addition to Allsup’s motor-home, also has school buses that have been converted into a shower and mobile closet. Allsup said that CleanUP’s most-used services are its free barbershop and closet, which is a made up of half women’s clothing and half men’s clothing. In July 2022, CleanUP also launched a new initiative to help provide auto care, starting with free oil changes.

One of the CleanUP buses was converted to a clothing shop with individual sides for men and women’s clothing Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.
One of the CleanUP buses was converted to a clothing shop with individual sides for men and women’s clothing Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.
Jordan Allsup with CleanUP picks a pair of scissors on a bus converted to a barbershop Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.
Jordan Allsup with CleanUP picks a pair of scissors on a bus converted to a barbershop Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.

Allsup hopes to launch a mobile-classroom that will look similar to a computer lab where anyone interested can get their GED, take college classes or receive certifications using provided computers. The organization already has all the technology it needs, Allsup said, but they’re waiting to fund their next school bus to put it into action.

The organization also continues to look for new volunteers.

“Everyone has talents, resources and time at their disposal,” Allsup said, who’s happy to take new helping hands through applying on his website, or even popping up to any event they have throughout the month.

Catering to all neighbors

If there is one thing Allsup wants to be clear about his organization, it’s that it doesn’t serve up, and it doesn’t serve down — it’s a safe place for anyone who can use its services.

Allsup recalled an event where someone driving an Audi pulled over for a free haircut. He said that CleanUP held an event outside a Ritz-Carlton hotel to try and break down the stigma that free services could only be for certain people.

Allsup also said that although the organization began by serving the homeless community, now he would estimate about 90% of services are provided to those who live in facilities, including those who receive housing assistance.

People wait in a line to get children’s haircuts from Jordan Allsup with CleanUP on a bus converted to a barbershop Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.
People wait in a line to get children’s haircuts from Jordan Allsup with CleanUP on a bus converted to a barbershop Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Fort Worth. CleanUP hosts events throughout the area to offer free haircuts and clothing.

The mobile buses and “Big House” (Allsup’s home), make sure to cater to communities they’re invited to and where the services are requested.

“Taking a service where it’s not invited doesn’t work,” Allsup said.

However, that doesn’t mean they won’t stop asking if there’s anything they can do for those who may be reserved about accepting help. For example, Allsup encountered a veteran named John who refused any services for months, but slowly gained his trust.

“Another neighbor told John ‘[Allsup] invites us into his home,’ and for some reason, that way the neighbor told John, stuck with him and he broke down crying,” Allsup said, adding that John now often uses the organization’s mobile showers.

In this calendar year so far, CleanUP has served about 900 haircuts and showers.

In August, the organization has 19 events throughout Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth, including some at local apartment complexes, the YMCA, with the Fort Worth Police Department and Fort Worth Salvation Army.