by Max Klinkenborg
It began with a need and a desire to help. In mid-2019, as Church of the Palms members planned for hosting the homeless at our church as part of the NW Valley I-HELP program, we realized that personal hygiene was a big need of our guests.
Cleanliness is a basic right of everyone; everyone deserves to feel their best. Being clean and feeling good about yourself is vital to a job interview, a key to getting out of homelessness. Poor hygiene is also a significant cause of health problems in people who experience homelessness. Cleanliness involves everything from clean clothes to toothpaste and, especially, a shower.
The Trustees at COTP hit the wall, pun intended, when we sought a place to build a shower within our facility. We knew that the majority of I-HELP host churches would not have showers, either.
Two things came together at this time that were more than just coincidence: a vision on the part of those ministering to the homeless to provide a shower trailer and a bequest given to the church designated for social ministries. The Board of Missions and Outreach was to be the steward of the bequest, making sure it was spent as designated. A presentation was made to the Board of Missions and Outreach before the pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt. On Aug. 10, the M&O Board met on Bridges and approved a $45,000 line of credit to purchase a shower trailer; the Church Council affirmed this action on Aug. 15. Three bids from three different manufacturers were discussed by a leadership committee, and an order to purchase was made on Aug. 17.
The shower trailer has three private compartments, each containing a 32-inch-by-32-inch shower, a lavatory and a bench. The trailer is air conditioned and has an on demand, liquid-propane water heater. A gasoline generator will provide the electricity, a water hose will provide the water, and a 300-gallon holding tank will contain the gray water from the showers. The trailer can provide 12 showers per hour.
In addition to servicing I-HELP host churches without showers, we plan to contract with communities in the NW Valley to provide showers to the homeless. We will begin with the city of Surprise and expand to others as time and volunteers allow.
We will begin to offer showers only when it is safe for our volunteers and the guests.