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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shower The People With Love

Mark Mulligan, a writer for The Herald, reports on the Fargos, a couple from Everett, Washington, who operate a mobile shower from a trailer on Wednesday evenings outside of the First Presbyterian Church in Everett. They also give away new sets of undergarments to folks who use the shower or come by and ask.

The Clearview couple, Louise and Frank Fargo, started Shower to the People more than two years ago when they decided to provide homeless people an important comfort many people take for granted.

“It just kind of hit me that some people have nowhere to take a shower,” Frank Fargo said. “And they are so appreciative. They think it's a great idea.”

For some of the people passing through, that shower is the only one they get that week. The fresh smells of soap and shampoo fill the trailer and the alley behind the church. A white curtain hides the part of the trailer where people can remove their clothes. Another curtain then leads into a small shower.

People are asked to limit their showers to five or eight minutes, but the Fargos don't watch the clock closely. The trailer gets instant hot water, and more can be added on site, so they never run out, Louise Fargo said.

The Fargos take the trailer to First Presbyterian Church in Everett on Wednesday nights and to Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood on Saturday mornings.

As many as 20 people take advantage of the shower each time. More usually use the shower at the end of a month, when their money may be running out, Frank Fargo said.

“They may be treating themselves to a motel at the beginning of the month, but by the end, they are stretched pretty thin,” he said.

About 900 people have used the shower since the Fargos started their unusual ministry.

Frank Fargo got the idea after reading a book, called Under the Overpass [see Under the Overpass blog, Monday, July 14, 2008), about a young man who was looking for something to do with his life when God told him to become homeless for several months. The man in the book describes going for weeks without a shower. Frank Fargo, who has met homeless people through his church, was touched.

He bought a trailer and outfitted it with a bigger shower, extra water tanks and the hot-water system.

The Fargos pay most of the expenses themselves, but they also get donations from the community. Frank Fargo hardly ever leaves his church, Cascade View Presbyterian, without a bag of donations for his shower.

The trailer has its regulars, and the Fargos worry when they don't show up.

The couple are well-known among church volunteers. The simple service they provide is giving people their confidence back, said First Presbyterian church member Merle Kirkley, who was helping clean up after the community meal.

“For someone who may be living in his car and hasn't had a shower in a week, this will make him feel better about himself,” Kirkley said.

Donations of toiletries and new socks and underwear can be dropped off at Cascade View Presbyterian Church, 1030 E. Casino Road, Everett.
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newguy40 said...

Nice story that shows the power of the individual to make a real impact to their community.

One of our local soup kitchens also makes a shower available to those in need. Unfortunately, there has not been enough money to supply towels. So, the homeless have to dress wet back in to their clothes. Anyway... thanks for the story. It helps me feel like I can help out too.

Anonymous said...

New Guy, God bless you! in all you do for the poor.

This story sounds like a James Taylor song, "Shower the People you Love with Love" but the Fargos literally do it with the gift of water and soap. They are a real inspiration.