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Florence Christian Church’s Fresh Start Shower Ministry is a safe place for the homeless to shower

As an outreach ministry of the Florence Christian Church, Fresh Start Shower Ministry promotes dignity through a safe place with showers and restrooms in Florence.

The Shower Ministry is hosting a grand opening on Friday, May 20 from 10 a.m. to noon. The event will include a ribbon cutting, proclamations, stories from shower guests and tours of the facility.

The Shower Ministry opened its newly renovated space to shower guests on March 1.

People who lack facilities to take a shower or use the toilet are invited to come and have a shower, a cup of coffee, a snack, a pleasant conversation and rest for a few minutes. Volunteers help keep facilities clean and wash up to 2 outfits for shower guests. In general, the space is hospitable and comfortable and provides much-needed shelter for homeless people.

Shirley and Mark, guest shower

In addition to shower and laundry service, Florence Christian partners with other agencies to provide support services to shower clients. St. Elizabeth Nurse’s Clinic offers a free foot clinic each week. Street staff from the Journey Recovery Center and the Welcome House of Northern Kentucky stop by regularly to check on clients and assist them when needed. A Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission insurance connector makes it easy to get health insurance. UK HealthCare offers HIV testing twice a month. The Northern Kentucky Department of Health and several health insurance companies are donating toiletries and other health and wellness products.

The showers are open from Tuesday to Wednesday. and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The facility averages 50 showers per week.

Hours of operation will increase as volunteers and funding increase.

Financial donations for the Fresh Start Shower Ministry can be made at https://florencechristian.breezechms.com/give/online Select Fresh Start Shower Ministry from the drop-down menu.

Donations of coffee, snacks, toiletries and laundry detergent are accepted during normal ministry hours or by appointment. Call 859-647-5000 ext. 1 to make arrangements. For more information, contact Melissa Stephens, 859-647-5000 Ext. 1.

The shower ministry began in 2016. It is not uncommon for churches to receive requests for assistance. Staff determined they had the valuable resource of a shower in the office wing bathroom to offer to people who were homeless. Before the pandemic shut down the ministry in March 2022, it averaged 35 showers a week and had 2 dedicated volunteers. During the pandemic, the church renovated a large storage area to include 2 ADA compliant bathrooms and added two light industrial washers and dryers. Renovations to the Department of Showers space were largely funded by the Boone County Tax Court and the RC Durr Foundation.

“I feel so beautiful after my shower,” says Shirley, Shower Guest.

Shirley and Mark, guests of the Fresh Start Shower Ministry, stop by most mornings to shower, drop off an outfit or two to wash and hang out with the friends they made during their recent homelessness experience.

They owned a trailer and two vehicles before Mark lost his job. Now they are working with a local agency to find affordable housing, living in their vehicle until an apartment becomes available.

Mark says: “It could happen to anyone, anytime, any day.”

But don’t think this experience crushed their spirits. They are grateful for the good life they lead. They have children and grandchildren they are looking forward to. They feel that God is with them 24/7.

“Happy is the only way to be,” says Shirley.

Mark says, “If this hadn’t happened to us, we wouldn’t have known there were good people like this,” referring to other Shower Ministry guests.

Florence Christian Church