Spark Grant Recipient Helps Provide ‘Showers of Dignity’ for Homeless Neighbors
They say some of the best ideas come while you’re in the shower, but for Spark Grant recipient Christine Dodson, the shower itself was her big idea. Her program, Showers of Dignity, aims to provide access to showers for people experiencing homelessness in the Tillicum and Woodbrook community.
“It’s definitely a dignity issue. Any one of us could be out on the street and I know I’d want a shower.”
While attending a convening on homelessness at the Tillicum Community Center, Christine heard her neighbors share their concerns about the safety and cleanliness of the Center’s bathrooms. “We were finding syringes in the bathroom, and there were also a lot of community members experiencing homelessness who were using the bathroom sinks to bathe, so many people who were using the facility for the clinic or the library didn’t want to use the bathrooms or even come in the building in some cases.”
Several homeless residents also attended the convening. They talked about the challenge of finding a place to get clean. Together, the convened group explored the idea of a separate shower facility on-site at the community center.
“I’m figuring we’re mostly targeting people that need to get washed and go to work because we do have several working homeless here. There are also several families who will want to get their kids washed up before school.”
“It’s definitely a dignity issue,” said Christine, “any one of us could be out on the street and I know I’d want a shower.”
After the meeting Christine said she immediately thought of applying for a Spark Grant. She got online and started to see what kind of sustainable solution she could work up for $1,500.
She came up with a type of camp shower. A two-room tent houses a shower on one side with the other serving as a privacy room for changing. There will also be shower chairs in each side for guests who need to sit down when showering or getting dressed.
Since the community center is already stretched thin with their own resources, the shower will use water from rain barrels, heated by a portable water heater that runs on propane. A non-toxic castile soap and clean towels will be provided for each guest. Volunteers will be on hand to sterilize the showers after each use to ensure cleanliness.
“It’s beneficial to everyone in our community because we’re all neighbors here and we all share this facility so we want it to be safe for everyone who uses it.”
The plan is to have the showers up and running two days a week by September, and Christine estimates they will be able to serve about 20 guests each day. “I’m figuring we’re mostly targeting people that need to get washed and go to work because we do have several working homeless here. There are also several families who will want to get their kids washed up before school.”
Christine recognizes that access to showers is just one aspect of numerous factors that surround the issue of homelessness in her community and beyond. However, she hopes Showers of Dignity can spark others to come together to create solutions, “It’s beneficial to everyone in our community because we’re all neighbors here and we all share this facility so we want it to be safe for everyone who uses it.”
Christine was one of 9 Spark Grant recipients for the Spring 2019 cycle. The next Spark Grant review cycle will be in Fall 2019. Learn more about Spark Grants here. Applications are due by OCTOBER 31, 2019
Spring 2019 Spark Grant Recipients
Black & Indigenous Organizing – Miriam McBride & Horacio Perez-Morales
B.I.O is a program led by young folks with the aim to build solidarity and connectivity between Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth through the lens of the land, history, and art.
Buckley Community Mural – David Wells
An inter-generational project will create a mural highlighting local produce in the new Buckley Public Market; participants will include White River High School students, members of local non-profit and public organizations and community members.
Charlotte’s Blueberry Park Nature Walk – Charles Christian Jr.
A plan to reclaim an overgrown trail, plant indigenous Washington flora, and install educational signs about native plants
Cookin’ it Up! – Brendan Nelson
A program that educates kids about food insecurity in our community and the many organizations that are taking action to address the issue.
Gardens for the People – David Thompson
Building vegetable gardens for Tacoma residents and bringing neighbors together at the table to share the harvest.
Kain Tayo! (Let’s eat!): A Filipino Fiesta – Clarissa Gines
Uniting the Filipino community through food, camaraderie, art, games, music, and Filipino traditions, while simultaneously educating the Tacoma community at-large about Filipino culture
Project Lit – Kristin Sierra
Teen literacy project at Lincoln High School focusing on group connection and discussion on culturally relevant, young adult literature that models leadership and diversity, culminating in a community author event.
Showers of Dignity – Christine Dodson
Providing a safe space, on a regular basis, for our houseless neighbors to shower.
Back to School Health Fair – Cynthia Ricks-Maccotan
A free event for families and students on the Key Peninsula to obtain backpacks, meet school counselors, students can obtain free sports physicals and state ID cards, and other services.