Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Apollo Beach resident Santiago Cardona can attest to this philosophy.
Santi, as he is known by locals, regularly donates his time, providing haircutting and styling services to those in need, particularly women, the disabled and people with cancer.
He came up with the idea when his mom, Rosario, was suffering from cancer and getting chemotherapy treatments. While he took care of making his mom look her best, the mother-son duo noticed that others did not have access to affordable hair services, prompting him to start Pink Days, a volunteer service offered to cancer patients and anyone with difficulties.
While Cardona’s mom passed away nearly three years ago, Pink Days — named after her favorite color — helps him carry on many of things that he learned from her while also keeping her memory alive.
“One day, while she was getting chemo, she told me that no matter what happens to her she wanted me to continue healing more women and people with cancer,” he said.
When he brings people into the salon, he offers a private, confidential session when the salon is empty to avoid any feelings of being overwhelmed. Sometimes, he brings flowers, and during the holidays he dresses as an elf.
“I know how it feels to have a loved one dealing with cancer or any kind of difficulty,” Cardona added. “So, while I cut their hair, I can also talk about my mom and tell them the bond I had with her.”
“I would like [to] add taking some people who have lost a significant other out to dinner,” he explained. “While we eat dinner, we can talk and remember the good memories.”
Cardona said the need for these types of volunteer services is much greater than the availability. He currently takes appointments on Mondays only and there is about a two-month waiting list.
People are noticing the Colombia-native’s good deeds. In early January, Spectrum Bay News 9 recognized him in its Everyday Hero segment.
“I feel very honored that I can share my history and inspire others,” he said. “I will forever keep honoring my mom’s legacy of volunteering and helping others in the community.”
Tuesdays through Saturdays, Cardona, under the moniker Hair by Santi, offers his services at Plush Hair Salon, located at 236 Apollo Beach Blvd. in Apollo Beach. He specializes in brassy hair, balayage, blondes and keratin treatment. For more information, call 706-604-8207.