Feature Story: Of men and beards …

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TROY, TEXAS: There is an old saying that I once read about beards that I loved. “Your character tells the world you are a real man. Your beard is mostly the exclamation point.”

If there is any truth to that statement, then the members of The 254 Whisker Men truly are a group of ‘real men.’

According to Brandon Waltz, age 38, and vice-president of the organization, “The 254 Whisker Men was started by a group of bearded men who wanted to do good things locally, they formed a ‘club’ and filed for 501(c) status approximately five to six years ago.”

Waltz, who is a truck driver, said, “The membership grew and events took place to raise financial assistance for other charity groups and their individual sponsored families. Funds were given either directly to other organizations or for things such as a Thanksgiving meal and Christmas presents.”

“Over the years, the leadership has changed several times and the 254 Whisker Men had their ups and downs.” he continued. “I was introduced to them via an event they were attending in April of 2016. I was immediately welcomed into the ‘family’ and began attending events to help the club with their mission.”

Though the central location is based on “current leadership, but informally we are based in the 254 area code stretching from as far south as Jarrell, as far north as Hillsboro, as far west as Cross Plains and north of I-20 to as far east as Mexia.”

Waltz explained, “Currently our membership is centralized to Bell County, and we have hopes to expand to all of the 254 area code.”

Why a beard club? Waltz laughed, “All facial hair matters …we truly believe this. and the beard community itself welcomes all styles, from mustache only to chops, goatee to whaler/donegal/Amish beard, styled beards and mustaches, and naturally, full beards.”

He added, “Not all members of our club have beards, one member is active duty military and is not permitted to have a beard, but serves his local community nonetheless.”

“We also have female members called ‘Whiskerinas.’ who craft natural looking and fantasy stylized beards, and compete alongside the guys in a category or two just for the ladies who wish to support the causes of the competition.”

On a ‘side note,’ Waltz said, “Beard competitions are organized by beard clubs all over the country and world to raise funds to support each clubs local chosen charities.”

“Most beard clubs are their very own entity and operate under their own assigned 501(c) ID,” he stated. “There are a few national and worldwide beard clubs if people choose to go that route as well.”

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Of his own long beard, Waltz said, “I last shaved October 29, 2016 for ’Movember’ to show my acknowledgment of men’s health issues, and it just went from there.” His beard has been currently measured at 6.5 inches, and he competes in the full natural beard category.

I am fortunate enough to have the ability to help others, and I’ve been in situations where I needed help myself, so why not join a group of people with very similar interests and do something for others who 1) need the help, and 2) usually are willing to help us if their availability and ability is improved enough to do so?”

“I chose this group based on several factors including, in no particular order, common interests in beards, fellowship, friendships, a family environment, and doing community service,” Waltz said.

He added, “As far as fundraising, we may do anything from a simple donation box, to a car wash, and the big stage of a beard competition. Our yearly beard competition is held each November on the first Saturday to raise funds for a voted charity for the year.”

“Some, or most, charities are revisited annually. Our competition is titled ‘Beards in the Hood’ with corresponding event number following, and it is noted who our main sponsors for the event are,” Waltz stated.

“We do reach out to businesses and individuals for financial support to help with the costs and fundraising for our selected charities. We also offer vendor space at our events to help them spread the word about their products.”

Waltz was asked to define the word hope. “Hope is a fluid word. For me, hope is the thought that there is always a tomorrow, not to be confused with procrastination,” he laughed.

“Hope is what drives me to be a better person, and hopefully, in turn, help someone else be a better person. Hope gives us a purpose to carry out our mission, whether personally, in a business life, or in a charitable organization,” Waltz said.

He continued, A world full of negativity is easily offset by the kindnesses we can do for one another on the smallest level, from holding the hand of an elder to cross a street, on to helping a man trim Christmas trees to be fashioned into canes sent to veterans for free.”

“I was unable to serve my country, but I do take great pride in helping others and potentially showing a young person or skeptic that there is good in the world and you can be the good,” Waltz said. “As a ‘service’ group, we are able to do for others that have not had the privilege of a particularly ‘easy’ life.”

He remarked, “We also like to bring new people into our group and show them how easy a small act can be. Sometimes people just need to be shown the way.”

In conclusion, when asked about coming up with his own quote for people to encourage them, Waltz thought for a few moments.

Giving advice and a general quote are one in the same for me. I tell my guys (club members and family/friends) ‘See it, Say it, Set it up,’” he said.

Waltz finished, “Meaning, if they see a worthy cause, tell someone that may be able to help, then set it up and execute the plan. Personally I will stand behind and assist someone doing something kind 100%.”

For more information about the 254 Whisker Men, click there. Visit the link here. https://www.facebook.com/254whiskermen/ or email them at whiskermen@yahoo.com.”

(c)RLHWRITESTMG2019
(c)Photos Brandon Waltz

Author: rlhwrites

Curator of prose and such.

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