Showers of Blessing
“Every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it.” – Rick Bragg
Ministry Village at Olive and Tender Hearts Caring Hands (THCH) are thrilled to announce a new service for our community – Showers of Blessing – our mission to provide a clean and safe shower to anyone in need.
The Covid-19 pandemic presented challenges to all individuals and businesses across the world, and organizations who care for the homeless population have been no exception. As shelters closed to prevent the spread of the virus, the unsheltered homeless population grew to previously unseen numbers in many communities throughout the country, including Pensacola. Many local charities and organizations have formed coalitions and task forces to brainstorm solutions and find ways to help those who are homeless. One way Ministry Village and THCH is hoping to help our homeless friends is through our new shower ministry – Showers of Blessing.
Anyone who has lived through a significant Gulf Coast hurricane and the ensuing power outage knows the discomfort that follows — days and sometimes weeks of cold showers, unwashed laundry, and an overall feeling of griminess. No one feels – or looks – their best. Imagine living every day in that situation. Feeling clean, meeting basic hygiene needs, and holding on to one’s dignity are luxuries many of the homeless do not have. Most of the homeless population were previously able to check in to some of the local shelters for an occasional shower and a hot meal, but in 2020, that came to halt. And even with shelters beginning to open and offer basic services again, the need for these services is greater because of the growth of the homeless population in our area.
“We want to be able to serve our homeless clients as fully as possible, and offering them a safe, hygienic space to get cleaned up a few times a week is a much needed service,” explained Jeremy Portmann, Executive Director of Ministry Village at Olive. Jeremy had been looking for shower trailers for MVO to purchase, but found the costs were prohibitive. He even pursued some potential grant funding to purchase a shower trailer, but the funding fell through after Hurricane Sally. Convinced this was a ministry opportunity prodded by God, Jeremy kept looking for ways to make it happen. He and Kathleen Schuster, the Director of MVO’s Tender Hearts Caring Hands program, had been serving on the Homeless Task Force of Opening Doors Northwest Florida, developing partnerships with other local organizations and businesses to help address the homeless epidemic in our community. Through their meetings, they connected with My Father’s Vineyard, a Pensacola church who has a passion for reaching the community for Jesus. Jeremy learned that My Father’s Vineyard had a 4-shower trailer that was not being used. The trailer required a foundation, electricity and a water disposal system, but MFV had no location suitable. Soon, Jeremy and Kathleen were crunching the numbers and working the phones to see if hosting the trailer at MVO was feasible, and what would be needed to make it all come together.
In next week’s blog, you’ll see the construction process and the steps taken to make the Showers of Blessing ministry a reality.
- The mission of Ministry Village at Olive is to put the words of Jesus into action throughout our community – “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV) Tender Hearts Caring Hands is MVO’s benevolence program, which provides family food bags as well as financial assistance including rent and utilities to those who qualify. THCH is also a lifeline to a large number of homeless men and women in the area who depend greatly on the hygiene bags and ready-to-eat food items THCH provides.
- Tender Hearts Caring Hands accepts donations Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 2PM at the Ministry Village at Olive office (1716 E. Olive Road). Donations of nonperishable food items and travel-size hygiene items are accepted. Financial donations are appreciated and go toward purchasing the items THCH distributes each day. Supporters can also make purchases through Amazon and items can be shipped directly to the Ministry Village at Olive office.
- If you would like to make donations specific to the needs of the new shower ministry, contact Kathleen Schuster (KSchuster@ministryvillage.org) or (850) 475-1118.
- To donate financially to Tender Hearts Caring Hands or any Ministry Village program, click here.
- If you would like to volunteer with Tender Hearts Caring Hands, contact Kathleen Schuster at (850) 475-1118 or by email atKSchuster@ministryvillage.org.