Hopping in the shower is something most Americans do without a thought. Every day, we grab a cup of coffee, watch the morning news, get in the shower and then head to work.
For people with no place to call home, they often need to clean themselves in a bathroom at a gas station or wherever they can find a sink with running water.
In the past year, the number of homeless people in Mecklenburg County has increased nearly 20%.
As needs in our city continue to grow, the coronavirus has complicated reaching those people most in need.
There are many incredible initiatives and programs to help men and women who are homeless, yet many of these individuals find themselves without adequate or convenient access to showers.
Project Outpour provides mobile shower access to people moving through homelessness, alleviating suffering and promoting holistic health and dignity.
“We are passionate about acknowledging the existence of others,” said Laura Gorecki, chief dignity officer for Project Outpour. “We advocate for human rights and dignity.”
Access to showers is very limited for those who can’t or choose not to stay in a shelter.
Those who can’t access showers may end up washing up in public sinks, outdoor faucets, or not at all.
Gorecki said that as a result of the lack of access, many homeless suffer from alienation and preventable diseases like skin infections, open sores, scabies, lice, and staph infections.
“Our goal, first and foremost, is to connect with clients on a personal level, to acknowledge their existence and help restore dignity – something that’s lost on the streets,” she said.
Through this, the Project Outpour team and volunteers are able to cultivate relationships and from there, discern people’s greater needs.
The relationship building helps Project Outpour work in concert with other agencies serving those moving through homelessness.
Many of the men and women Project Outpour serves say that a shower is the difference between setting up an interview or not, landing a job, and then keeping that job.
Their customized shower trailer is 18 feet long and comes complete with two full bathrooms. Each bathroom has its own sink, mirror, toilet and shower.
Guests are given 20 minutes, and Project Outpour provides them with any supplies they may need, and those items—with the exception of towels and washcloths—are theirs to keep.
The organization can’t provide its guests the gift of clean without the support of our community.
Project Outpour has a variety of needs: from gift cards to purchase gas and propane for the trailer; to laundry pods and deodorant; to gallon-sized shampoo, body wash, and toothpaste.
Project Outpour hosts scheduled shower service four days a week and in four separate Charlotte locations: from 10:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. on Tuesdays at First Christian Church, 1200 East Blvd.; Wednesdays at Allegra Westbrooks Regional Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Rd.; Thursdays at Memorial United Methodist Church, 4012 Central Ave.; and Fridays at Hickory Grove Library, 5935 Hickory Grove Rd.
With all the challenges facing our community, it is obvious that this team will stay in place for as long as it takes, working with and serving Charlotte’s homeless community.
If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.
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