Showers of Blessing has received a grant of $40,000 from the Natalie Orfalea Foundation to operate its Unity Church shower site for the entire year of 2021. Showers of Blessing provides free hot showers, fosters compassionate hygienic care, and offers access to critical services for people experiencing homelessness. The funds will pay for supplies, personal protective equipment, staffing, gas and maintenance on shower trailers and trucks, snacks the nonprofit purchases for its guests, and other expenses incurred in operating the weekly site.
Sally Hamilton, Showers of Blessing’s board president stated: “We are grateful to the Natalie Orfalea Foundation for its sponsorship of our Showers of Blessing site at Unity Church. The combination of Natalie Orfalea’s sponsorship of our site expenses and the volunteers from Unity, who greet guests and launder the towels, is the perfect example of community cooperation to offer our neighbors from the houseless community the dignity and sense of well-being that comes with a hot shower.”
Showers of Blessing operates five sites in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Isla Vista, serving 30-35 showers at each 3-hour session. Guests are admitted unconditionally, and receive a toothbrush, razor, soap and toiletries, new underwear and socks, masks, and wipes to take with them, along with a towel they return after their shower. The Unity site operates on Thursday afternoons from 2:00-5:00 pm.
Showers of Blessing has been allowed to continue operating during Covid with support from its donors, volunteers, the Cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta, and the county of Santa Barbara, who declared Showers of Blessing an essential service. Showers of Blessing has condensed its volunteer staff into three paid positions to ensure safe operations, upgraded its sanitizing routines, adopted social distancing measures, and asked its vulnerable volunteers to take a break from volunteering until the pandemic could be managed.
Being able to shower is an essential support to people enduring homelessness, allowing them to maintain physical and mental health and participate in the community with less friction and prejudice from others. Moreover, Covid has forced more people into living in their cars while closing gyms and other public showers. Site manager Wade Volk has noticed more people who used to double up with friends, sleeping on couches and other temporary arrangements, are visiting Showers of Blessing. He estimates that a quarter of Showers’ guests have jobs. “These people aren’t transients; they are making an effort to sustain themselves on a daily basis. [They are] holding at least a part-time job or a couple of part-time jobs,” he says.
Showers of Blessing’s mission is to provide free, hot mobile showers to houseless residents in southern Santa Barbara County in order to promote health and wellness and restore dignity to our most vulnerable residents. To donate or for more information, please contact Showers of Blessing https://showersofblessingiv.org/. For more information on Showers’ program, please contact John Tamiazzo, Executive Director, at 805.591.0822 or at email@example.com.
Showers of Blessing current weekly schedule:
Monday 1:00–4:00pm St. Michael’s University Church
6586 Picasso Rd, Isla Vista
Tuesday 10:00am–1:00pm Commuter Parking Lot
400 W. Carrillo Street (at Castillo), Santa Barbara
Wednesday no showers scheduled
Thursday 9:00am–12:00pm St. Athanasius Orthodox Church
300 La Sumida Gardens, Goleta
Thursday 2:00pm–5:00pm Unity Church
227 E. Arrellaga Street, Santa Barbara
Friday 11:00am–1:00pm St. Michael’s University Church
6586 Picasso Rd, Isla Vista