How Did It Happen and Who Helped?
By Max Klinkenborg
We gave our first shower on February 23, 2021, at the Salvation Army Church on Avenue of the Arts in Surprise. It was our maiden voyage with the trailer and we gave 9 showers and charged 5 cell phones. Little did we know that day how typical that would be. We were at the Salvation Army Church because of our contract with the City of Surprise to offer showers twice a month within the city. From the beginning of the concept of the shower trailer, the City of Surprise was encouraging and welcoming for us to bring the trailer to serve the homeless population there.
For a little history, it was in February of 2020 that Max Klinkenborg made a PowerPoint presentation to the Mission and Outreach Board to purchase a shower trailer and begin a ministry away from the church campus to where the homeless congregated. Before M&O could take action, Covid 19 was upon us, and we ceased to worship in person and meet as Boards. It wasn’t until August that the Board met by ZOOM and approved $45,000 from the Spaulding’s bequest designated for Social Ministry. The ministry began with all believing that God was in the timing and we had a mandate to move forward in service.
The trailer arrived on October 20, 2020, and we spent much of the next four months equipping a truck to pull the trailer and to haul a generator that was needed to power the trailer. We hosted a “Come and See” event for representatives of surrounding communities and had a dedication service for the trailer on a Sunday after worship. Volunteers were recruited, but it was an easy sell, as many had been committed to the ministry from the beginning.
Over the year, we have been at several locations with the trailer. Every two weeks, the trailer is at the Salvation Army Church in Surprise.
Since October 2021, we have been at Ktizo UCC, near 35th and Olive avenues, twice a month to compliment their ministries to the homeless. From the middle of June to the end of October 2021, we took the trailer to Santa Teresita Catholic Church in El Mirage, where we averaged 2-3 showers, so we stopped going there as we had other opportunities. Without a shower at COTP, we began offering showers to I-HELP guests on Monday nights in June 2021.
We have also taken the shower trailer to one-time events, such as “Day of Freedom” on Juneteenth. We set up at a Salvation Army Church in downtown Tempe and gave 30 showers on a very hot June day. The trailer has also been to Emmanuel Church of God in Christ in Buckeye and at the Surprise Resource Center for a “Stand Down” event for veterans and at Rio Vista Park in Peoria, sponsored by the Peoria Police Dept.
Our financial support for the first year came from the City of Surprise, Ktizo Church UCC, a grant from the City of Peoria and individual donors. Our start-up expenses have been significant, but going forward we will be self-supporting, independent of support from the church’s budget.
The FEET-N-MORE shower trailer has been successful because of the vision and generosity of our patrons, a faithful and hard working cadre of volunteers and support from our partner churches and cities.