By Caitlin Masessa
Although only 24 years old, Plant City native Dontrey Sureller is aware of how lucky he is. With two kids, a two-year-old girl and a baby boy that entered the world this past May, Sureller was quick to have them exposed to the importance of family. “My family and I are small, but we’re very close-knit,” Sureller explained. “It’s important for me to have them see that closeness.” Cutting hair for two years, and going on his first year at 6ithelement Barbershop in Brandon, Sureller discovered a new passion through the job he loves. “While I cut people’s hair, I talk and mentor them,” Sureller said, “I found that, through cutting hair, I can touch lives.”
Wanting to touch lives beyond the barber chair, and with the help from his family, Sureller decided to form Generation ReNewed, a foundation that puts the spotlight on his home of Plant City. “We want to give back to the Plant City community by reaching back from the generations of the past to the generations of today to get our neighborhood restored,” Sureller explained the namesake of the charity. With back-to-school season rapidly approaching, Sureller decided it was the perfect time for Generation ReNewed to put on its First Annual Bookbag Drop. With food, music, bounce houses, and a Tuna car show that had more than 60 vehicles, Sureller hopes that the event which happened on July 23 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center in Plant City will become more than just a pick-up point. “We wanted to bring ourselves to the community in the right way,” Sureller beamed, “We want to give away all the 200 bookbags that were donated.”
Passing out flyers around his community, Sureller could feel the buzz of excitement the residents feel over the event. A buzz that already has him seeing the opportunity to expand Generation ReNewed beyond bookbags. “What we plan on one day soon is to get to where we can do job placement and prepare people for job interviews by giving them the right clothes to wear or to help them fill out an application,” Sureller said when speaking about helping adults as well as children, “We just want to mentor and give back.”
Mentoring is nothing new for Sureller thanks to 6ithelement’s tradition of giving free haircuts to the foster kids of A Kid’s Place. Going on six months of performing the service, the Barbershop closes at six every other Tuesday to accommodate the children, and stay until they have given every child the cut they desire. “The kids love us and have a good time,” Sureller smiled, “They don’t really have anyone, so to see them come in and look up to us really touches my heart.” Sureller hopes that Generation ReNewed doesn’t just touch the hearts that need it the most, but that it will also inspire more people in the community to speak out about a cause important to them. “That first initial thought of ‘I want to help’ is all you really need,” Sureller offered advice to anyone who wants to help out, “If you can think it, you can do it.”
To learn more about Generation ReNewed and its mission, contact Kimberly Kitchen at 562-4495.