ST. CLOUD, Fla. — She's a woman who dedicates her spare time to provide a service which many take for granted.
- Myra Hernandez gives free haircuts to children with autism
- She is inspired by her own daughter who is autistic
"We need this is in the community. There aren't that very many that provide. So, I'm doing it for them," said Myra Hernandez, this week's Everyday Hero. "They're just grateful. Grateful for someone who understands the trials."
On the last Sunday of each month, a steady stream of clients trickle into Hernandez's St. Cloud Salon.
"The majority are boys, so it gets a little rambunctious," she said.
But Hair It Is isn't your typical salon. It's been the home base for the last five years for Hernandez to provide free haircuts for autistic children.
"If you have sensory deprivation or you have issues with anyone in your perimeter it gets to be a meltdown," she said. "Everyone is different. One thing may not work for the other. So, you got to figure it out."
Hernandez uses special trimmers that make little noise and moves with knowing hands; music off, lights can be dimmed in the salon.
It's something that parent Gary Victory appreciates.
"To get a place to know where we can go and be comfortable, it's a God send," said Victory, who brought his son in for a cut. "For parents like us, it's so important to be able to find a place that's comfortable and willing to help."
Her partner admires Hernandez's dedication.
"She was like, 'Yeah, I was thinking of doing it for free.' When she said that I was like, 'Wow,'" said Reynold Pierre-Louis.
Pierre-Louis met Hernandez five years ago and was immediately struck by her sheer determination to spread autism awareness and provide for families who need help.
"When she comes home, she's so tired on a Saturday evening, like she's crawling out her car, but she still makes it, wakes up early to do these free haircuts for these children," he said.
Hernandez is inspired by her own 23-year-old autistic daughter; photos of the women are tacked around the salon as reminders.
"Brianna was diagnosed at 18 months," she explained. "I often say that Brianna is my sole purpose in life. She's a very happy, loving, wonderful young lady."
Now as Hernandez dives into another project, organizing a safe haven for adults with disabilities, others -- like her partner, Pierre-Louis -- can't help but admire the woman's strength.
"There's not a lot of people like Myra, doing what she does," he said. "Words couldn't even express how proud I am of her."
"These children go months without a haircut because they can't deal with the sensory issues," Hernandez said, tears brimming in her eyes. "They're forgotten they're pushed aside … they're different, not less."