MEDFORD, Ore.– A local hairstylist has spent the last two years donating time almost every Sunday to cut the hair of those less fortunate. However, after giving so much, she’s in need of help as well.
Erika Clogston, 31, has lived in the Rogue Valley her whole life. As her mom describes it, she had a love for hair since she was a little girl. Clogston says about 10 years ago she became a professional stylist and works at Cielo Salon in downtown Medford.
It was about two years ago she saw a notice from Compassion Highway Project looking for someone to give haircuts to the homeless. Instantly, she knew it was something she wanted to keep on doing.
“Once I came out once, I just fell in love with being out here with them and getting to help people and making them feel better,” said Clogston.
Almost every Sunday, Clogston gathers with other volunteers at Hawthorne Park to help give back to the homeless. Food, clothing, blankets, medicine – all donated by people for people in need. But Clogston provides something unique.
“It makes you feel good too,” said Anthony Zachman, one of her regular clients. “You get rid of that long hair or scrappiness and people look at you different.”
Zachman says he tries to get a haircut from her whenever he can. Everyone, he says, loves having her there and no one has any complaints.
“She’s very talkative, you could talk to her about anything,” he said. “She listens and it’s the little advice she gives too so it’s nice to have someone whose not judging you.”
There is something that might not be discussed all the time though and it may be something not many of her clients know.
Since birth, Clogston has been battling an epidermoid mass that has slowly been growing in her brain. However, it wasn’t till eight years ago, when she was 23, that doctors found the mass. She went into surgery to have it removed but doctors could not clear it all out because of proximity on the brain and the optical nerve.
Clogston deals with chronic headaches and ever-changing vision and was told she might have to have surgeries every seven years or so. The news she would need another surgery came earlier in the week.
“My recent MRI in January, my doctor called and said that it’s double in size and it’s not looking good and that we need to do surgery again and have it removed,” she said.
Clogston’s mother Judy Fair has been with her daughter every step of the way. As the youngest of three kids, Fair calls Clogston her baby. She says the surgery has been scheduled for February 10 in Portland and will take about 8-10 hours to complete.
“It’s hard to talk about,” said Fair, holding back the tears. “I’m just going to support her in every way possible cause she’s amazing. I’ll be there, I’m her momma and i just love and adore her.”
Fair says she’s beyond proud of her youngest daughter who is married and has two young children ages 5 and 3.
With every cut and every smile, it’s the little things that make the most impact. It may be a simple haircut but to Clogston and the people’s hair she cuts, it means so much more.
“She’s awesome and my prayers are going to be with her and I know everything will be all right,” said Zachman.
And while she’ll be recovering afterward, Clogtson will be counting down the days till she can get back.
“I couldn’t not be here,” she said with a smile. “Anytime I can’t be here I feel guilty.”
Clogston is expected to have permanent double vision due to the surgery and may have to get eye surgery later on as well. A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for the family’s medical expenses if you would like to donate.
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NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.