FIVE CLACKAMAS AREA ROTARY CLUBS UNVEIL NEW MOBILE SHOWER CART
Five Rotary clubs in the Clackamas County area officially unveiled a new mobile shower cart that provides showers to homeless individuals throughout Clackamas County. The event was dubbed “Shower The Shower Cart” because event attendees brought “shower” gifts for the cart- items like shampoo, shaving cream, foot powder and bottles of body wash- for use by individuals who access the cart for showers.
The shower cart was put into operation on November 29, 2020. Aside from much needed showers, LoveOne, a nonprofit organization that serves marginalized persons in Clackamas County and operates the cart, has noted many other benefits. LoveOne uses the shower events to introduce persons in need to other services such as housing, public health services, clean clothing, laundry services and food programs. Numerous individuals have been referred to housing services as a result of their interactions with LoveOne via the shower cart.
The need for the shower cart became very apparent in April 2020 after many facilities that served homeless individuals in the Clackamas area either stopped operations or ceased providing some services as a result of COVID 19 shutdowns. That included shower facilities. In March 2020 Bill Stewart, member of the Rotary Club of Clackamas, happened to be in a meeting with Brandi Johnson, executive director of LoveOne. Johnson noted that LoveOne had seen a sharp increase in serious health issues related to lack of access to hygiene related services.
Stewart immediately began making phone calls, starting with the Clackamas Service Center (CSC), another organization that serves homeless and marginalized populations. CSC agreed to allow LoveOne to operate their shower cart which they had temporarily taken out of service due to COVID 19 concerns. LoveOne organized volunteers to support the effort including volunteers from area Rotary clubs. It soon became apparent that a single cart was not adequate to serve the need.
Fundraising for a new shower cart, led by the Rotary Club of Clackamas and the Clackamas Rotary Foundation, began in earnest. In total seven Clackamas area organizations joined the project: The Rotary Club of Clackamas and its partner the Clackamas Rotary Foundation, The Rotary Club of Clackamas Sunrise, The Rotary Club of Milwaukie, The Rotary Club of Oregon City, The Rotary Club of West Linn, Celebrate Milwaukie and Providence Willamette Falls Medical Foundation. LoveOne agreed to be the custodian and operator of the new shower cart.
By September 2020 the group had raised $36,000 and construction on the new shower cart began. Service providers offered suggestions that would increase capacity and streamline operation of the cart. The cart was completed in October of 2020 and functional testing began. The cart was put into weekly operation on November 29, 2020.
To date (April 2021) more than 865 volunteer hours have been contributed and more than 420 showers have been delivered. Shower events typically take place in local church and business parking lots. LoveOne works with nearby residents to assure that the events do not negatively impact surrounding neighborhoods, and to date not a single complaint has been lodged.