How much does it cost to make homeless people “feel like a million bucks?”
Just $5,000 and a lot of hard work by one Missouri pastor.
Jake Austin bought a used box truck to convert it into a mobile showers for the homeless.
“Clean people are happier, healthier, and more hopeful,” Austin says. “When you step out of the shower, you feel like a million bucks.”
Austin has worked with the homeless almost his entire life — his parents ran a soup kitchen when he was growing up. But the importance of showers for the homeless was made clear to him just a little over a year ago.
Handing out hygiene supplies to the homeless, a man thanked him for a bar of soap, then asked him where he could use it. Austin realized even with food and clean clothes, a person who hadn’t bathed in months would never land a job.
He created “Shower to the People,” a non-profit to provide hot showers to people living on the streets of St. Louis. The group’s logo hearkens back to the 60s, but with a twist— a fist is thrust into the air, clutching a bar of soap.
Austin found a used truck and began outfitting its interior with shower stalls, sinks, and privacy curtains for dressing. An additional row of sinks outside will let more people wash their faces and brush their teeth.
When it rolls out later this year, it will connect to fire hydrants across the city and use a generator to run an electric water heater for hot showers.
Austin plans to send the truck to different locations around St. Louis each day. He figures parking it in one spot for eight hours would let 60 people shower every day.
There are not many non-profits providing showers to the homeless, Lava Mae in San Francisco, California is retrofitting old city buses for the job and a Florida man has built a mobile shower unit in a trailer for the homeless.
“If we can get people regularly clean, we can give them some hope,” Austin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Get some hope in their bones, they can take the next steps. They can keep climbing.”
(WATCH the video below from Shower To The People) — Photos: Shower to the People
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