One Sunday afternoon several friends were enjoying a pint at a local pub in Charlotte, North Carolina. The group observed another patron with a “scraggly” beard that prompted the friends to debate who could grow a fuller one. Forty-five minutes later, the conversation evolved into an idea for a non-profit organization with the name “Beards BeCAUSE” scribbled down on a napkin. Jared Yerg, cofounder of the non-profit that began that day in 2007 shared that the charity has since raised over $250K.
Beards BeCAUSE is a grass roots organization that raises money through healthy beard growing competitions and a multitude of entertaining events in support of a serious issue that faces women: domestic violence. Yerg explains, “We wanted to get awareness for the guys out there to help out, and show people that men care as well.” Most of the money raised helps women with temporary shelter, transportation to job interviews and to take children to school, security, legal assistance and counseling.
“In our first year, we thought we’d get a dozen guys, maybe raise $5K and have a few cool parties for charities. Instead it took on a life of its own and we ended up raising $22K! It was just crazy how fast it all evolved and we realized how serious we needed to take it,” reveals Yerg.
The Beards BeCAUSE fundraisers are set up with a personal webpage to accept donations, where they can post messages and display their bearded progress. The participants start completely shaven in October (to sync with domestic violence month). Next is a Five O’clock Shadow event in November—celebrated with a finale in December that includes local bands, a silent auction and an awards ceremony. “We are very involved in the Charlotte music scene, and premiere a lot of the up-and-coming rockabilly and progressive rock bands. It’s great to showcase the music here while tying it into such a great cause,” Yerg shares. “We’ve also had a lot of women support us, better known as our “Bearded Ladies.” Some of whom have also been domestic abuse survivors, and didn’t have a way give back until now.”
The organization is always rethinking ways to exceed fundraising goals. They’ve hosted everything from comedy and music shows to collaborating with Charlotte’s Beard and Mustache Club on bake sales and holiday events. Yerg also mentions how some of his own personal creativity has played a part in fundraising. “I took up painting a few years ago and often paint portraits of our bearded members. I often donate several of my pieces at our various fundraising events at the shelters we support, so it’s pretty cool to see my art sell for the cause as well.”
With the amount of dedication Yerg spends working on projects for his non-profit he admits, “It can be a struggle, and I have to remind myself occasionally I’m not in my twenties anymore. It’s been a skill to learn how to delegate. I like to enjoy a good wine now and then, and of course find time to work on my art, but I also spend a lot of time attending other community charities.”
Being the face of a non-profit that requires you to repeatedly shave and re-grow for charity definitely has an impact on Yerg’s personal style. He observes, “It’s interesting how well-rounded the bearded community is in relation to style. Personally, I like a good mix of preppy and vintage with a bit of western influence. I’ve always had some kind of facial hair—but as an incarnation. I think the longest I’ve grown my beard out lasted about five or six months. Thankfully though, my beard has filled in since college, because it was the most pathetic beard I’ve ever seen on anyone’s face. My dad’s always been bearded so I knew there was hope, and now I even share a pointers with him, such as recently turning him on to Beardbrand’s Beard Oil. In my own regimen, I wash my beard once or twice a week and follow it with the Spiced Citrus oil.
If it wasn’t for his charity organization, the beard would be a permanent fixture for Yerg. He advises, “We gotta put down the razor! We can take out Gillette one guy at a time apparently,” he laughs. “There’s also a few things every guy should know: How to change a tire, how to drive a stick and you HAVE to know how to try and grow a beard. If you can only rock a mustache grow that, and if you can only grow a goatee go with that.”
Aside from hosting the man-pageants of bearding, Yerg has much more in store for Beards BeCAUSE. Charlotte’s been fortunate to increase the amount of shelters in the area recently, which also means there is more work to be done. “Two Saturdays a month we take the guys to the shelters to help serve food and work.” It’s great for the women at the shelter to see that we care, but also for the guys to see what we’re raising money for. Seeing the impact you have firsthand is a tremendous thing to witness.”
In an effort to continue to educate people about his organization, Yerg hopes to get more endorsements to reach their goal to raise half a million dollars and we’re confident they can do it. Starting this Friday, March 21st, Yerg and the fine folks at Beards BeCAUSE can also be found lending their services at the third annual Carolina BAM, (Beard and Mustache) competition; a fun-filled weekend of whiskers that also showcases local music, crafted artwork, and copious amounts of southern food with locally brewed beers. Beardbrand’s very own Eric Bandholz will be a featured judge in the competition, with proceeds benefiting Safe Alliance, an organization prominent in helping victims of domestic violence. A fine example of growing outside the box, we salute Yerg and Beards BeCAUSE in showing the world facial hair and charity make an excellent pairing.