When we give to charity, we need to know the impact.
We give food to provide meals. We give shelter to those who need security. We fund environmental causes to protect our planet.
But what about dignity, self-respect? How do we help others stay connected to their humanity? Beyond food, shelter, and clothing, we need to be a part of society.
And in our society, personal hygiene matters.
What if you couldn’t bathe when you wanted to?
It's part of the daily ritual.
Most of us put on clean clothes, brush our teeth, and check our phones every day. And most of us also step into our bathrooms, grab a towel, and turn on the water.
But for some 580,000 unhoused people across the United States, it’s not that simple. Much of this community have little or no hygiene facility access; no shower or sink, not even a toilet. It's resilient to make do by using retail restrooms or nature for their facilities.
But this isn’t just about water and soap. It’s about the agency over being seen how we want to be seen.
Life is tough, it's even tougher when you haven’t had a shower, or a haircut, or even washed hands.
The other part of the equation.
It's not only a lack of facility access. It's also limited access to quality personal care products.
Without a home, where would you store them? And then there’s the sheer cost to worry about.
If anything’s available, it’s often the cheapest stuff.
Harsh chemicals found in cheap products are tough for a body battling the elements. Nothing can replace the feeling of clean and hydrated skin or soft hair.
And there are way too many people who don’t regularly experience that.
Six years ago COMMONS partner John founded Archangel Raphael’s Mission (ARM for short) at. His goal was to bring much-needed support to the homeless community around Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.
John often says ARM started “on the hood of my Subaru, making and handing out sandwiches'’. It soon evolved into a health and human services group, organizing haircuts and hand-washing stations in multiple locations.
Two years in, John and then girlfriend (now-wife) Kelsey decided to expand ARM’s services and build a mobile shower unit.
Making that happen turned out to be far from easy.
It took 4 years of tireless fundraising, building, and partnership-building. But the ARM team is piloting their first mobile shower site this summer, with plans of a spirited expansion next spring. The 2-stall unit brings all the creature comforts of a home spa to the streets, complete with vanity, toilet, sink, shower, and faux-wood flooring.
COMMONS donates 1 item for every three purchased, extending that same high product quality to guests of ARM’s shower units. Everyone, regardless of means, should get to love how they feel, and hygiene is a huge part of that.
A well-supplied and comforting shower is a great start.