Local non-profit provides showers to the homeless

Cleanliness can be difficult when you don’t have access to a shower.

That’s why Jewels Helping Hands, a local non-profit, is stepping up to help the homeless in Spokane and surrounding areas.

They have a trailer they dubbed The Shower of Hope, which provides 20 minutes of hot water to those who need it powered by propane.

The trailer was donated by the Guardian Foundation. Jewels Helping Hands raised $2,000 to fix it up.

“We saw a need in the community that people were not able to shower,” said Julie Garcia, executive director and founder of Jewels Helping Hands.

Garcia said they spent a lot of time transporting people to warming centers and realized that there were some people who went two or three weeks without showering.

“We only realized that when we had a body lice outbreak. Body lice are not like regular lice, they don’t attach to hair follicles, they live on skin and in your clothing,” Garcia said. “They’re super simple to get rid of, all you have to do is take a shower and do your laundry. Those are two things that there’s no access to.”

While there are some showers in Spokane for the homeless to use, sometimes they can’t get in. In Spokane Valley, she said they only found one at the YMCA that costs a few bucks.

So now, they take the trailer around to different parts of each city every week.

The trailer has four different shower stalls, as well as a sink and mirror for teeth-brushing and grooming purposes. They will also provide hygiene products, underwear, socks and food for those in need, too.

Garcia said in two weeks, they will be adding a waterless toilet prototype with one of the shower stalls.

“I have to go to the bathroom, I know I can walk into a store downtown and go to the bathroom. That’s not the option for the homeless and I just don’t think people understand what they’re going through,” she said.

As the mayoral race is going on, she said homelessness should not be a political issue.

“What I see now going on, it really hurts my heart. It’s not republican or democrat. This is about humanity,” she said. “We’re still fighting on where people can take a shower and sleep.”

One issue they are currently running into is finding a place for the trailer to be and to hook up to a water service. All they need is to hook up to a garden hose spout, and then they’re in and out in two hours. They can fit in about 24 showers in one hour.

Garcia said she’s asked each city for a piece of property they can use from time to time.

“We’ll go there if it’s even they want us there one or two days a week. We will be consistent,” she said. “This is what we do 24 hours a day, so we will show up, we will clean up, we will make people accountable while they’re there at their business. But, it’s just getting businesses to open their doors and say ‘OK, I’m going to let 40 people shower in my parking lot.'”

They just put in a permit with Spokane City to access the water as well.

Some may think that the showers would be trashed and are dirty, but she said that’s not the case. They clean the shower after every use.

“They’re super respectful of our showers. We’ve had no issues with anything getting broken or stolen. They feel apart of something. They know that people are seeing them and that they care regardless of what is going on in their life in that moment,” she said.

Something as simple as a shower could help them feel better.

“I had one guy come up to me and he hadn’t showered in three weeks, and I talked to him. I said, ‘Did you enjoy the shower?’ He said, ‘Well, it’s the second best thing I’ve had all day.’ I said, ‘What was the first thing?’ He said, ‘This conversation… Somebody actually acknowledged me and somebody actually cared if I showered or not.’ That’s important to me to be that person,” Garcia said.

On Tuesdays, they are at the Spokane Valley Partners at 12 p.m. Then, the Spokane Community of Christ on Broadway Avenue in Spokane Valley from 1:30 p.m to 3:30 p.m. Then move on to the Compassionate Addiction Treatment Center from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

On Friday, they are at Our Place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

On Saturday’s they are at Mission Park starting at 6 p.m.

In three weeks, they will be at the Monroe Room starting at 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

They will be at the Spokane Valley Homeless Connect on Sept. 13 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., hoping to provide 200 showers.

For more information on Jewels Helping Hands, visit their Facebook group here.