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New mobile shower gives homeless community access to hygiene and resources

Non-profit LoveOne debuted the new shower cart at Clackamas Town Center Saturday, citing a growing need during the pandemic for those living on the streets.

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. — Saturday, community members celebrated the unveiling of a new mobile shower unit at Clackamas Town Center. 

Local rotary clubs in Clackamas County raised money to buy the unit for Love One, a non-profit community-based organization serving the homeless.

“A shower is definitely something that's a basic need that provides dignity and a sense of humanity,” Pastor Sara Gross Samuelson, a Love One community partner, said.

Finding a hot shower doesn't come easy to many experiencing homelessness. The pandemic closed public restrooms making it even harder.

“People weren't able to access soap and water. So that started to increase infestations and infections,” Love One Executive Director Brandi Johnson said.

Community-based non-profit One Love wants to change that. The organization serves people in Clackamas County with clean laundry, showers, meals, personal care resources, and community connections.

A staple of their care is offering access to showers. Johnson said the need has grown as COVID-19 has cut off access to running water.

“We’ve had a few folks come who haven’t had a shower in over a year,” Johnson said. “Recently we had someone who came and said he hadn’t had a shower in 40 days. He had been counting the days since the last time he could shower.”

The lack of access to hygiene can lead to infections and other health problems. The mobile shower cart not only addresses that problem, it also connects people to other resources and services.  

“Essentially it’s a service point, a node for that,” Rotarian and Community Prosecutor Bill Stewart said. “We provide showers to homeless folks throughout the county, and we can take it to where they are, but the bigger opportunity here is to develop trust and to bring services to help them try to transition out of homelessness. That’s the real opportunity this presents.”

Five Rotary clubs in the area made the new shower cart possible. Saturday, Rotarians, community members, and Love One celebrated the mobile shower unit with an event dubbed "Shower the Shower Cart" at Clackamas Town Center.

“You have a baby shower or a bridal shower to celebrate the launch of something or some new phase in life, so why wouldn't you shower the shower?” Gross Samuelson said.

People brought in "shower gifts" too; donations of shampoo, shaving cream, and body wash.

“There's the public health aspect, that mitigates the infections and infestations, but there's also the hope that it brings,” Johnson said. "It's more than just a shower, it's what else do you need. Let us get to know you, your story, and then we meet those needs."

Love One's next mobile shower event is happening Sunday, April 25 from 4-7 p.m. at Milner veterinary hospital in Oregon City.

For more information visit www.loveonecommunity.org.