Two motivated women from Acampo will soon be rolling up in Lodi to offer homeless individuals a mobile shower.
The shower shuttle called Showered with Love was the idea of Mary Jarrard, who was inspired after witnessing homeless individuals come into Helping Hands Thrift Store in Stockton, her former employer, to use the restroom and clean themselves.
“I wanted to do something for them that was more dignifying than having to use a public restroom to take a bird bath,” Jarrard said.
Jarrard began researching possible solutions and came across the Cleansing Hope Shower Shuttle in Modesto. She reached out to founders Dean Dodd and Kelli Ott and they invited her to check out the shuttle.
“They had converted a bus into an operating shower, and would travel throughout Modesto and offer showers to homeless individuals,” Jarrard said.
Jarrard began volunteering and was able to meet the members of Modesto’s homeless community.
“There were some people that visited the shuttle who were just one paycheck away from being homeless,” Jarrard said.
After seeing the Modesto operation at work, Jarrard began exploring the idea of a shuttle service for Lodi and Stockton and started recruiting people to join the cause. She successfully drafted the help of her friend Kelly Hanisch.
“I did not understand Mary’s vision until I had seen the shower shuttle in Modesto. Once I saw it, I was onboard,” Hanisch said.
By last October, the duo was making tremendous progress on their shower shuttle. They were approved as a nonprofit and they were gifted a bus by Faith Community Church in Acampo.
Following the acquisition of the bus, they managed to raise enough money through donations and fundraising to get the inside of the bus renovated. The bus will have two separate showers and a hot water heater. The water that is used for the showers will come from on-site hoses and will be drained into on-site drains.
“We are currently looking at three bidders for the project. We have heard prices from $30,000 to $60,000 for the renovations,” Jarrard said.
Their goal is to have the shower shuttle completed and ready to operate by June. They have sought out areas to host the shuttle and have secured space at Grace and Mercy at 425 N. Sacramento St.
Since developing the concept, Jarrard and Hanisch have solicited donations from local churches and business for hygiene kits to be given to the homeless individuals, as well as socks and undergarments.
“There are a lot of people that want to help and they don’t know how to help, and this is a great way to help and build bonds with the homeless members of our community,” Hanisch said. “We can help people get off the street and give them some dignity.”
For Jarrard, her experience in Modesto has taught her the difference a shower can make for a homeless person. She believes that people unjustly look down on the homeless and hopes that by offering the shower shuttle she can help make a difference in the community.
“I have become so passionate about it. It’s such a real thing all of us together can have a hand in,” Hanisch said.
For more information about Showered with Love or to volunteer, visit www.swlove.org.