After having firsthand experience with the difficulties in life while being homeless, Jake Austin decided to make a difference for many of the struggling human beings he saw around his city of St. Louis, Missouri. He found that one of the main complaints of his homeless men and women was that they sometimes could not shower for months. So he set off to change that with a mobile shower on wheels project he calls Shower to the People.
Austin bought a truck on Craigslist for $5,000 and then set up a GoFundMe online to raise money for the remodel to install clean, portable showers inside of it. He achieved his goal and managed to build this beautiful truck, which today offers a dozen night to about 60 people.
Some of the grateful homeless were near tears when describing how thankful they were for this opportunity. Showering properly, shaving and using shampoo is obvious to most of us, but for someone who can not live or swim anywhere, it can be a real treasure.
The importance of having a shower is something often overlooked when considering the needs of the homeless. Austin described how “people can get food and clothes, but if they haven’t had a shower in three months, they can’t get a job even flipping burgers.”
“The program isn’t just about getting people clean,” Austin says. “We’re doing this with the hopes of building relationships with people, connecting them with services, and getting them off the streets.”
So far, it’s been effective: According to Austin, the volunteers connected many people with transition opportunities and extended the driver’s license to apply for jobs and services.