A refreshing idea: King Road mobile shower unit for people who are homeless in Abbotsford
by Brianna Janz
It is easy to take the things we use every day for granted: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the water with which we wash.
Refresh Mobile Showers, a ministry of King Road MB Church and other local partners, is helping to bring these essentials to people in Abbotsford who don’t have access to them every day.
A flood of support
A couple of years ago, King Road member Henry Penner saw a video of a pastor who was using a mobile unit to provide showers to people who are homeless.
Penner thought someone should do it in his city – but not him.
However, when the video crossed his path again, he began to think more seriously about it.
Penner talked to community leaders, including his pastor, hoping to be talked out of his “crazy idea.”
When he brought the mobile shower plan to King Road’s missions committee, they encouraged him to get the city’s support.
After a positive response from the mayor, meetings with the city’s Homelessness Action Advisory Committee, and consultation with the police and fire departments and paramedics, there was nothing to stop Penner from taking Refresh Mobile Shower from idea to reality.
Local businesses, individuals, and a fundraising campaign at King Road raised the $40,000 cost of the trailer.
Ongoing costs include fuel for towing the trailer. A local shop has offered to perform any repairs on the trailer, and a member of King Road is storing it for free.
On May 1, 2019, Refresh Mobile Showers were used in Abbotsford for the first time.
Dignity in the details
On Wednesdays, the shower unit is set up at Bakerview Church and on Thursdays at the MCC Centre on Gladys Avenue.
Both locations already offer a meal and clean clothes; now patrons have an opportunity to take a shower as well.
Each Refresh Mobile Showers’ event requires at least four volunteers to greet patrons, manage usage, and clean the units.
Refresh Mobile Showers’ motto is “restoring dignity one shower at a time.”
It is not just about the shower. Patrons can lock their possessions in a safe place while they shower. Most importantly, Refresh volunteers call patrons by name, and take the time to talk to them.
“I wish it was [available] more often,” says one woman who has used the mobile showers a few times in its early run.
Penner says Proverbs 19:17 – “whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD” – drove his work to bring the showers to Abbotsford.
“Seeing the look on their faces when they come out of the shower and say thank-you” brings Penner joy.
Refresh Mobile Showers is one way that King Road fulfills the mission statement of “Following Jesus, Loving each other, Reaching our world.”
– Brianna Janz is a member of King Road MB Church, Abbotsford, B.C.
This article is reprinted with permission from the MB Herald