Sheref Shehemi may be a long way from home, but it some ways he has come back to his roots.
Suffield’s Pilgrim Barber on High Street learned the barbering trade as a 16-year-old kid in Lebanon. He left that country a few years later during the Lebanon War in 1982. Alone, he headed to America with hopes of finding peace.
He was a 20-year-old student with one friend in New England. So here he landed, getting a visa and attending Springfield Technical College.
"I had no family here. I lived in a hotel for a year," Shehemi said. "It was hard, but I had patience and perseverance and I stuck with it."
Shehemi became a diamond consultant for a while before he dove back into cutting hair. He owned a barber shop in Massachusetts and then moved his scissors to Suffield, where his welcoming smile and "How are you doing?" immediately greets you at the door.
Having owned the shop for five years now, Shehemi is feeling right at home.
"I like barbering," he said. "The customers become friends."
In fact, because of his love for nature, customers bring him photos of local wildlife, including a few Suffield bears, to grace the counters and mirrors of the shop.
He loves the photos but the real thing is even better. Shehemi spotted a bear while driving down the road one day took his breath away.
"To see a bear – it’s a beautiful sight," he said.
Shehemi lives in Feeding Hills, MA with his "lovely" wife, Anna, their teenage son and their daughter. He spends downtime kicking around the soccer ball and playing hoops at home.
When he finds the time he likes to travel, both back to Lebanon and around the northeast.
"I like to go up to Vermont," he said. "It’s beautiful. I would love to buy a little house up there. Or get a motor home and drive it someplace new every weekend."