Appalachian Service Project
BRISTOL, Tenn. — Around eight volunteers congregated Tuesday in the parking lot of the Haven of Rest Rescue Mission in Bristol, Tennessee, strapped on cloth face masks, applied hand sanitizer and donned disposable gloves in preparation for a new service — free showers.
Showers for Our Neighbors, which launched Tuesday, is a program that will offer showers to community members who are experiencing homelessness. Every Tuesday and Thursday for the next month, those residents can go to the Haven of Rest between 1-4 p.m. and get a free hot shower in one of the stalls of a shower trailer provided by the Appalachian Service Project.
“This is something Bristol doesn’t have right now,” said Melissa Roberts, a program coordinator for Bristol’s Promise, one of the multiple local nonprofits behind the initiative. “We have a committee talking about starting a day center, but that hasn’t happened yet. This is one of the ways we can reach out to our neighbors and say, ‘You’re important.’”
From Bristol Herald Courier – Apr 30, 2020
Each resident who uses one of the showers will get a free hygiene kit they can take into the shower with them, Roberts said, and they’ll also get a free bag of dental care supplies when they leave. Two employees from Hygienitech, a home cleaning service, will deep-clean each shower stall with industrial-grade cleaning equipment between each shower.
“That’s our biggest expense,” Roberts said of Hygienitech’s services.
As of now, the program will run for four weeks because that’s how long the funding for Hygienitech, which was donated by Family Promise, will last, she added.
The shower trailer, provided by Appalachian Service Project and located on-site at The Haven of Rest in Bristol, Tennessee, will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 until 4 p.m. through the week of May 23.
Showers for Our Neighbors was started by the Bristol Coordinated Community Response Team, a coalition of local groups run by Bristol’s Promise. Roberts said the group, which includes about 30 members “from both sides of the state line” and meets weekly, has lately focused on local issues related to the pandemic and the economic recession it triggered. Alongside the shower program, she said, the group has also worked to support local food pantries, get masks to volunteers and help find volunteers for programs that need them.
Roberts said she wasn’t sure how many people will show up for the showers.
“But we wanted to make this [service] as widespread as we could for as many people as we could,” she said.
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