This is hard to admit, but I have not been able to take a shower at home for over a week.
When my wife and I moved to Denver last fall, friends opened their home to us so that we could have a soft landing while we looked for work. It was quite a blessing, and it’s worked out very well for us. It’s even allowed us to make the transition to buy our own place soon.
Three weeks ago, our friends discovered some leaking water behind the tub and shower, so they had to remove them both and tear out the damp drywall and insulation. Which leaves the bathroom with an obvious and significant problem: the tub and shower are gone.
Actually, the tub was on the front porch, and now is in the backyard full of dirt for a makeshift herb garden (it looks nicer than it sounds, I promise). It makes for a pretty funny conversation piece. But the reality is, it’s no joke. Thankfully, the house still has running water, so we’re not totally without options on getting clean.
Of course, you’ll have to forgive me as I spout off some #FirstWorldProblems related to having no tub or shower in the house, but it’s really hard to keep clean and feel refreshed when you can’t take a shower or bath at home. And it’s embarrassing to admit that I’ve had to use the shower facilities here at the Mission several times (Thank God the new Administration and Education building has access to a weight room and showers).
But each time I get up in the morning and shuffle into the construction zone that is currently our bathroom, it reminds me of the people I meet down at the Lawrence Street Shelter. They have nowhere to get washed up either. And as embarrassed as I am, at least my situation is temporary.
It’s a sobering reality that simply getting clean is a near impossibility for most of our homeless neighbors, let alone getting access to clean drinking water and restroom facilities.
That’s why the Lawrence Street Shelter and the now-under-construction Lawrence Street Community Center are so important. The shelter provides a warm bed at night, but it also provides the homeless a dignified place to use the restroom, access to drinking water and a place to get out of harsh weather. For those who stay the night at the shelter, a fresh shower in a requirement before climbing into the 200+ beds to help keep all our guests clean and safe. And soon, the Lawrence Street Community Center will feature showers and more restrooms so that the homeless can have a dignified place to wash up and access to restroom facilities throughout the day.
You know that refreshing feeling of stepping out of the shower, ready to meet the day? Imagine having that feeling for the first time in weeks or months. That’s what the new Community Center will offer our struggling neighbors.
So next time you step into the shower to start your day, remember our homeless friends and neighbors with me. And remember that phrase harkening back to the martyr, John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Because we’re all just a few short steps away from being in their shoes, and we’re all just within reach to help them get back on their feet again.