Governor, Indiana Black Expo honor Indianapolis community leader

Willie Haines
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A local community leader was recognized Tuesday for his efforts in helping Hoosiers find their way over the last 25 years.

Willie Haines got top honors at the 43rd annual Indiana Black Expo. Governor Mike Pence introduced Haines and others like him Tuesday.

Haines chose to make a difference for young people through leading by example.

He established ABC Barber and Beauty School after he lost his job as an air traffic controller. Haines' career was over when then President Ronald Reagan fired all air traffic controllers, claiming they did not have the right to strike.

Haines, 68, knows nothing will be given to you in this life and he also knows what it feels like to have everything taken from you. He's dedicated his life to giving back. This week, military veterans were learning to be barbers at his school.

Sitting in one of his barber chairs at the school, Haines explained what happened when he lost his job.

"Today we are working, tomorrow we are not. Three hours after you went on strike everyone is fired," he said.

Walking through the school, Haines showed us where it all started.

"Started with 3,000 square feet. Now I have 11,000 square feet."

It was a turning point for unions in the United States and for Haines.

"Since then I built two classrooms, facial area, a teacher's office and a locker room," he said.

He created ABC Barber and Beauty School and in turn created his legacy.

"Some people from ministry, some people from neighborhood and some people from business took time away from every day and said 'I am going to go make a difference in Indiana instead of just making a living,'" said Gov. Pence.

Tuesday, Haines was recognized for his accomplishments as a recipient of the Governor's Award for Achievement. It was his chance to stand and be recognized.

Back at his school, Haines talked about why his school has been so successful.

"There is a need in our industry. Training; grass roots training. It's a skill no one can take from you," Haines said.

That is important to Haines because he knows what it's like when you lose everything. He also knows what it takes to not only survive, but to thrive.