Violet Nelson couldn't wipe the smile off her face Monday as she stared wide-eyed Dominic Farrenkopf's hairdo.
"That's something," she said, as he leaned forward and let this visitor to Hamilton's Discovery Care Center touch the shiny black spikes of hair standing straight up on end off the top of his head.
Farrenkopf has seen that look before.
In fact, he's been seeing nothing but since Saturday when he lived up to his part of the deal that raised more than $1,100 for the Bitterroot Youth Home.
"You've heard of being shell shocked," Farrenkopf said. "All these people are hawk shocked, but I'm getting used to it."
Farrenkopf raffled off a chance to creatively cut his hair in any fashion for a $5 ticket that would go to help fund the Bitterroot Youth Home's summer program.
The folks at Discovery Care Center - where Farrenkopf serves as the Assisted Living Activity Director - have had a special place in their hearts for the youth home's young people since a Christmas celebration brought them all together years ago.
"There was a young girl there," Farrenkopf remembers. "When someone asked what she wanted for Christmas, she said ‘a family.' It was really touching."
Since then, the residents at Discovery Care have put together a couple of different fund raisers to help out. In 2009, they were presented the most innovative program of the year award for their efforts by the Montana Health Care Association.
"We have this relationship and it's really important to us," he said.
And so when Farrenkopf found himself having a hard time making an appointment for a haircut and one of the residents offered him $5 for a chance to do her own magic, he decided to see just how many more people that were out there willing to do the same.
After a story appeared in the Ravalli Republic, money started rolling in. Some folks from Germany even chipped in some cash.
When the day came to choose who would do the do, Nick Hooper's name came out of the hat.
"I'd never done anything like that before," Hooper said.
And so Hooper turned to his old golfing buddy and barber, Firp Redman, for advice. He'd spotted the Farrenkopf's future hairdo on a skateboarder zipping through Hamilton's downtown.
Armed with all the haircutting tips he'd need to get the job done, he showed up last Saturday at the South Valley Child and Family Care Center.
Farrenkopf brought the spiking glue.
"It took him about 15 minutes to do it all," Farrenkopf said. "He knew exactly what he wanted."
Since then, Farrenkopf has been turning heads about everywhere he goes.
He's heard cowboys grumble and truck drivers honk their horns as he made his way around the community.
"My wife said maybe I should have bought a T-shirt that said ‘I did this for a fundraiser,'" he said. "We had hoped that it would raise awareness for the youth home and I think that's worked."
Farrenkopf sold over 180 raffle tickets.
"People I didn't even know were buying tickets. Word of mouth and the spot in newspaper were all it took."
Initially, his wife wasn't too sure about the whole idea.
"Now she's my biggest fan," Farrenkopf said. "She combs my hair and spikes it for me. She knows how much we care about the youth home."
She also knows that this Saturday the hairdo will likely be piled around the bottom of a barber's chair.
Laura Henning, the development coordinator for Youth Homes Inc., said the money Farrenkopf raised will play an important role in making a memorable summer for some young people in need.
"We like to keep our kids active and engaged through the summer months," she said. "The money we receive from the state funds the basics and not much more. This amount of money is pretty significant."
Henning admits that some thought Farrenkopf's idea was a "bit hair-brained ... but he put so much effort into it and had such a good positive attitude that he made it work."
Farrenkopf is so excited that's he's already planning for next year.
"A little Dutch boy haircut," says a Discovery Care resident walking on past. "That's what I think he needs next. A little Dutch boy haircut."
Editor Perry Backus can be reached at 363-3300 or email@example.com.