A safe place to take a hot shower may be the most overlooked luxury by those who have a place to call home. After all, what’s more relaxing or healing than a hot shower? For some who aren’t as lucky, a shower isn’t a guarantee. Those in the homeless community may go weeks, months, or even years without something millions of Americans don’t think twice about.
A St. Louis-based nonprofit has decided to make a difference in the homeless community with an innovative invention: mobile shower units. Shower to the People aims to “restore dignity, foster hope, and empower upward mobility to our friends and neighbors living on the streets…”
It all started in December of 2014 when founder and director Jake Austin, a pastor who has worked with the homeless for years, realized there was a need not being met in the homeless community. “People can get food and clothes, but if they haven’t had a shower in three months, they can’t get a job even flipping burgers,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
While deciding how best to bring his vision to life, the thought occurred to Austin: If people can put a kitchen inside of a truck, then why not a shower? That’s when he began researching how to create a mobile shower unit. He then raised $5,000, purchased a truck, and the journey began. The truck now travels through the streets of St. Louis making scheduled stops where large areas of the homeless population preside.
After the truck reaches its destination Shower To The People staff and volunteers set up a table, which provides soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, feminine hygiene supplies, and dental hygiene supplies to homeless men and women.The truck’s plumbing is attached to the closest fire hydrant and a hose is ran to the nearest drain for water disposal. The generator on the truck powers the air conditioner, lights, and hot water heater.
If the mobile shower truck is parked for 8 hours, then the nonprofit can offer up to 60 showers to the city’s homeless citizens. That’s 60 fresh starts and a place for those less fortunate to wash their faces, brush their teeth, and regain some of the dignity and strength their circumstances may have taken away from them.
Austin believes that “clean people are happier, healthier, and more hopeful” and aims to give confidence and hope to those he serves as they continue to work toward a better life.