Shower Outreach Project has new name, momentum

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A mobile shower trailer is getting closer to providing hot showers for people living outside — and it’s got a new name.
Food with Friends is raising money to operate a shower trailer for homeless people. (Contributed by Jamie Spinelli)

© The Columbian, 2017
By Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith
Published: October 18, 2017, 6:00am

Food with Friends aims to get the Shower Outreach Project, or SOP (like sopping wet), operational in the next few weeks. Last summer, local outreach volunteers looked into getting a shower trailer after Share House discontinued providing showers to unsheltered clients, citing wear and tear on the building and sewage problems.

Portland-based PDX Cart Builder finished building the trailer, which has two showers, and it was recently moved to Vancouver. However, it still needs to be insured, registered and otherwise made street legal. Jamie Spinelli, a volunteer with Food with Friends and a case manager at Community Services Northwest, said there’s ongoing fundraising for the operational costs of the trailer. Also, she said, they’re looking for locations that could host it. The trailer connects directly to water, power and sewer. Those sites could offer as many or as few showers as they want, and provide volunteers to help staff it.

“We’re working on solidifying a schedule with locations and volunteers,” Spinelli said.

The aim is to bring the showers to different locations in the county, not just downtown. Orchards, Cascade Park and Hazel Dell are a few targeted areas. There’s also the matter of gathering hygiene products, laundry baskets and towels, though Spinelli isn’t sure where they’ll wash the towels.

In the meantime, Food with Friends has applied for grants and bought about 40 day passes to the Marshall Community Center, so some people could take showers. Others, who are older or have disabilities, have gone without showers.

You Can Help

Food with Friends is seeking monetary donations, along with donations of towels, hygiene products and laundry baskets. The nonprofit is also looking for sites willing to host the shower trailer and volunteers to staff it. Contact Food with Friends at 360-723-5791, or foodwithfriends@outlook.com or on Facebook under @foodwithfriendswa.

“It’s going to be a very welcome resource because they’re going to be able to a have hot shower,” Spinelli said.

As an outreach worker, she imagines that the shower trailer will provide an opportunity to connect with people who are homeless and living out of tents or cars.