LAKEWOOD, NJ — Edgar Gallegos cuts hair for a living, but when it comes to giving back to his community in Ocean County — and his entrepreneurial spirit — he cuts no corners.
The native of Ecuador’s background reads like an American success story, New Jersey style. He came to the U.S. with his family when he was 12, and they settled in Lakewood. He went on to attend the middle school in town, and in 2006 graduated from the high school, where he played soccer all four years. He simultaneously attended Ocean County Vocational Technical School for two years while in high school, and attended later on as part of his post-secondary education.
“It’s important to give back to the community, because all it takes is one person to make a difference in someone’s life.”
“Lakewood became home away from home and it is a beautiful town, filled with many people, cultures and pride,” says Gallegos, who volunteers in the community in addition to owning and operating E.G’s Barbershop nearby in Beachwood. “It’s important to give back to the community, because all it takes is one person to make a difference in someone’s life.”
When Gallegos is not busy at the barbershop, he is finding ways to help others:
- He is the junior varsity soccer coach at Lakewood High School.
- Last year, along with two friends, he organized a gentlemen’s night at a public school in Lakewood. Kids, accompanied by their parents, are invited to come in and get a haircut, learn how to properly knot a tie and receive pointers on good grooming.
- Gallegos is a paraprofessional in the Special Education Department at the high school, and works one-on-one with a student from Puerto Rico.
- The affable 29-year-old produces a yearly event called then Jersey Shore Barber Battle. Local and out-of-state barbers — male and female — compete in various haircuts/styles for trophies and cash prizes.
He credits his friend, Oscar Orellana, for guiding him and giving him the opportunity to give back to the school and the community. Now, Gallegos enjoys doing the same for others, particularly young people.
“As a professional licensed barber, I think it’s very important for kids and young adults to have or set goals for themselves, from short-term to long-term,” he explains. “If kids have a goal to work toward, it will make them work hard and be successful in life — and also will keep them out of trouble and off the streets.”
Gallegos embodies that kind of drive and spirit to succeed.
“While I was growing up, my parents bought a hair salon in downtown Lakewood (where it continues to operate), and I grew up watching my mother do hair and my father managing the salon,” he says. “When I was 21, my mother gave me a barber kit and told me to try it.”
So, he did, and later returned to school to formally learn the trade and earn his state cosmetology license. About a year ago, he opened E.G’s, also known as Executive Gents Barbershop. His trade and service to the community intersect at Ocean County Vocational Technical School, where he is a certified substitute teacher for a cosmetology course.
“You have to put God first and be a humble person in life.”
“I get to give back to the community mentoring young students to succeed in school and life itself,” he says with pride. “Some kids know me as ‘the famous barber’ from town. They also look up to me and want to follow in my footsteps. As a role model for young adults, I try to guide them to the right path and tell them to follow their dreams!”
Despite his successes, Gallegos remains grounded.
“You have to put God first and be a humble person in life, have a positive mind-set in order to succeed and achieve your goals, and always give back to the community and to the people who support you,” he advises. “In my case, I’d like to thank my wife Athena and family for always believing in me and for pushing me to conquer my goals.”
Yes, Edgar Gallegos is that kind of guy. And that’s what makes him a fine part of the community fabric of Lakewood.