Refresh: Hygiene and Hope - A Free Shower Program for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Holland Sentinel News recently shared an article about the launch of this program on Friday, March 22 - Read it here!


Holland organizations partner to provide showers, mail, community support and services for individuals without access to safe, stable housing, launched February 2019

First United Methodist Church of Holland (FUMC) and Community Action House (CAH) are pleased to announce a new program providing free showers, mail service, and drop-in center to provide relief for individuals experiencing homelessness. On Tuesday mornings, showers and services will be offered at First United Methodist Church, located on 10th St between Pine and River in Holland, MI.

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"Knowing how important shower access is to human dignity, it seemed important and an issue of faith and justice to make a way to safely offer our showers to people in our area who are experiencing homelessness,” said LuAnne Stanley Hook, Director of Community Involvement for First United Methodist Church of Holland. “We are beyond thrilled to be able to offer this to our community."

The program aims to be a safe place for respite and provide hot showers where all are welcome. “Again and again, the individuals we’re connecting with share the value and difficulty of maintaining hygiene,” said Angela Maxwell, Homeless Outreach Specialist for Community Action House. “The need for showers exists. We’re looking forward to building trust in this service for those that will most benefit from it. The reality is that no one wants to feel badly about their appearance or condition, and through this program, that reality can begin to change for the better.”

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Through the program, CAH is poised to serve individuals experiencing homelessness. Five individuals have achieved stable housing in the past two months with the support of Outreach staff utilizing professional case management access to a deep referral network of community resources, and extensive connections to CAH’s hunger relief and housing programs. All of this will be provided to Refresh: Hygiene and Hope participants.

Locally, a shower is often cost and location prohibitive for those experiencing homelessness or housing instability. One-time entry into local fitness centers with showers can be as high as $9 per visit, while truck stops can be as high as $15. Other options, such as ongoing fitness center memberships can be difficult to travel to, and often require a valid state-issued ID and credit card. The partnership between CAH and FUMC seeks to deliver services that are needed but not offered by the existing market.

As a drop-in center, Refresh: Hygiene and Hope will provide mail services, allowing visitors to receive important mail at FUMC. One of the major barriers to successfully navigating available community resources is valid ID, and a place to receive official documents through the mail is a bridge to achieving documentation. Coffee, snacks, free wifi, and access the internet are also included. CAH’s Homeless Outreach Specialists are an integral part of the program, trained in addressing and navigating the challenges of homelessness will be onsite. Initial volunteer training was held February 5th.

“Simply put, this program allows someone to be refreshed and enjoy a hot shower,” said Daniel Unekis, Homeless Outreach Specialist at CAH. The program is also an opportunity to build connections, and hopefully fill in one of the cracks in the local system. Ultimately, the program hopes to deliver numerous services with the goal of continuous improvement through feedback from program participants.

Where & When:

First United Methodist Church of Holland is located at 57 West 10th Street, Accessible via Max bus routes 2, 3, 5, & 7 (evening). Tuesday mornings from 9am-noon on a walk-in basis.

Interested volunteers, please contact LuAnne Stanley Hook at lstanleyhook@fumcholland.org or 616-396-5205, ext. 108.

Donations of the following items are welcomed: Regular laundry detergent, full-size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion, hair dryers, disposable razors and shaving cream, new clothing items such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, underwear, and socks, bike locks, portable snacks and breakfast items, travel-size toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, q-tips, combs, feminine hygiene items, lip balm, hair ties, art supplies, books, crosswords and other puzzle books.

Contact:

LuAnne Stanley Hook, Director of Community Involvement
First United Methodist Church of Holland
lstanleyhook@fumcholland.org
616-396-5205 ext. 108
57 W. 10th St, Holland, MI 49423


Angela Maxwell, Homeless Outreach Specialist
Community Action House
amaxwell@communityactionhouse.org
616 392 2369 ext. 130
Holland, MI 49423