The past two days have been chilly and rainy and muddy, but my heart is warm. For a few hours yesterday, E. R. Plumbing Services came out to do some important work. There was orange mud, a giant hole dug, straw, and an uprooted and replanted azalea in the process. Was this an effort to fix some broken thing here? No (although they did do an extra job for us we needed done). The point of this visit and all this upheaval was getting ready for something exciting that will help a lot of people. They installed a new drain, called a clean out, that will allow Project Outpour to set up on our property and provide free showers to homeless people on Tuesday mornings.
Think about how crummy it feels when you haven’t had a shower—maybe your power went out during a storm, or maybe you had construction going on in your home making your bathroom inoperable, or maybe you had a surgery that prevented you from taking regular baths or showers for a while. Now imagine weeks and months and years of that. This is the reality of many of the people in Charlotte who are home-insecure. They don’t have a home, so they don’t have a place to get clean, either. They make do with public bathroom sinks, public showers in places like Urban Ministry Center, or perhaps they can shower where they work. It is a rare luxury to have a private bathroom including sink and shower to oneself for any length of time if you don’t have a place with running water—though it shouldn’t be. Project Outpour very recently stepped in to provide showers in a mobile trailer for people who have no where to go to get clean. This partnership began with a conversation and a dream over a year ago, and now, with some wonderful work and donations from a few of our Dilworth Soup Kitchen volunteers, we can make it a reality.
The plan is for Tuesday midday showers, free to anyone who is signed up for them. Sign ups will happen (at first) on Mondays at the Dilworth Soup Kitchen for the Tuesday slots. The trailer will be set up in our parking lot, attached to our front yard hose and the new clean out drain. After the trailer has been with us a while, those sign ups on Mondays may not be as necessary. The shower unit is out of commission for the coldest winter months, and to come back this Spring. We will be one of a few locations with the appropriate drainage to have their unit in our parking lot for one morning per week. Other locations include the Men’s Shelter, Hope Chapel, and Spintastic on South Blvd. Some other places are considering offering this great necessity, too. The trailer houses two private, clean bathrooms that include shower, sink, and commode. Clean towels, soaps, and other toiletries are provided. Each person will have that bathroom for 20 minutes, and then volunteers will come in and clean after each and every use. If you consider that we’ll be hosting from 10 am to 2 pm on Tuesdays, that’s a lot of showers! A few of the earliest very clean guests can walk over to Ascension Lutheran Church for their soup kitchen meal on Tuesdays. Perhaps, also, some of the folks who have been eating lunch at Ascension will be able to travel to us and get a shower right afterward. These Tuesdays will demonstrate great synergy between multiple ministries at once: Dilworth Soup Kitchen, First Christian Church, Ascension Lutheran’s Soup Kitchen, and Project Outpour.
So yesterday, as that new drain was installed, I was imagining people feeling clean and blessed this Spring and Summer (and beyond) right here, at First Christian Church. We’ll be able to say, in a new way, “Come to our church to get clean!”
Look for this ministry beginning at our location on Tuesday mornings, from 10 am-2 pm, in April of 2020. We will need volunteers to help during that time—some to clean the bathrooms repeatedly during those four hours, and some to help with the guests who are waiting their turn. Certainly, we will gain a new awareness once we get started, too. Please, spread the word. Stay tuned!