Program update: Fresh Start Mobile Showers in Las Vegas
A year has passed since we unveiled the Sands Cares Fresh Start Mobile Showers program with our partner, Las Vegas Sands, and to celebrate, we want to take a look at its impact. The story behind this inner-city mobile shower truck began when Las Vegas Sands’ humanitarian arm, Sands Cares, approached Clean the World with a proposal: they wanted to focus their outreach on the homeless community in Las Vegas, which has one of the highest concentrations of homelessness in the United States. After much brainstorming, our team and Sands Cares decided to create a program that would enable homeless individuals to gain access to showers and hygiene services that are so critical for promoting health and dignity. Since shower facilities are scarce and often unsafe, the idea of a mobile shower unit addressed the need for additional services while also providing the capability to reach remote populations unable to access downtown service providers.
The unit offered its first shower on August 2, 2017, and there has been a steady stream of clients ever since. Each day of week the four-bathroom repurposed trailer makes its way to locations hosted by sponsors such as Salvation Army or WestCare. Mostly publicized by word of mouth, the mobile hygiene unit has become a well-known sight for many in the Las Vegas homeless community. Kevin Williams, Mobile Hygiene Manager for The WASH Foundation – often called “the shower guy,” – says he is often greeted by lines of people when he arrives at a location for the day. “We are like a family out here,” he says.
Providing 50-60 showers a day is no small feat – it means every week, an average of 250 individuals have access to hygiene, toiletries to take with them, a warm welcome, and a chance to be alone in a safe place for 20 minutes. “The number one statement made out here is ‘Oh my gosh, I feel human again,” Williams says. We count this kind of reaction as a sign of success.
In addition to the showers and hygiene supplies, the mobile unit is also designed to serve as a “point of entry” into the broader continuum of services available for homeless and low-income individuals so that they can move from homelessness into lives of self-sufficiency. Other nonprofit and community service organizations establish a presence at the mobile unit during each stop it makes throughout the city, providing additional services such as referrals to case management, job training and placement, mental health assistance, substance abuse treatment, and much more. This mobile unit, along with the resources that other partnering organizations make available to the homeless community, can and does have transformational effects on lives.
Jameel is one of those affected lives, and his beautiful story of restoration began with his first shower in the mobile hygiene unit. After hearing about the mobile showers, he showed up to take his first and soon became a regular. After building a relationship with Williams, he was eventually hired as a The WASH Foundation employee. Today, he helps manage the unit operations himself. Jameel says relationships the mobile unit and the team build with the homeless individuals are the most valuable parts of the program. “Out here it is hard to trust people,” he says, “and we have people lined up because they can trust us to come.” Jameel has now been working with The WASH Foundation for four months, and he has recently moved from transitional housing into his own apartment. He credits the mobile unit for his success: “It has brought normalcy back into my life.”
This operation and the incredible impact it is making would not be possible without the commitment and support from Sands Cares, as well as other local organizations which host the unit. Like other The WASH Foundation programs, the mobile unit relies on financial donations to cover operating costs.
The Fresh Start Mobile Showers program has already touched many lives on the streets of Las Vegas, and with continued support, we hope to reach more as each year passes. We need your support, and encourage you to join the efforts to give homeless individuals a second chance by donating to this program below:
Help us get viral by sharing this page.