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Florence Christian Church’s Fresh Start Shower Ministry is safe place for homeless for showers

As an outreach ministry of Florence Christian Church, the 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 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.

Individuals who lack facilities to take a shower or use a restroom are welcome to come in for a shower, cup of coffee, a snack, pleasant conversation, and rest for a few minutes. Volunteers assist with keeping the facilities clean and also launder up to 2 outfits for shower guests. In general, the space is hospitable and comfortable and provides much-needed shelter for individuals who are unhoused.

Shirley and Mark, Shower Guests

In addition to shower and laundry service, Florence Christian partners with other agencies to provide support services to shower guests. St. Elizabeth Nurse’s clinic provides a free foot clinic weekly. Street outreach personnel from Journey Recovery Center and Welcome House of Northern Kentucky routinely stop in to check on clients and assist as needs arise. A Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission Insurance Connector facilitates signing up for health insurance. UK HealthCare provides HIV testing twice monthly. Northern Kentucky Health Department and several health insurance companies donate toiletries and other health and wellness products.

The showers are open Tues., Wed. and Thurs., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The facility averages 50 showers a week.

Operating hours will increase as volunteers and funding grows.

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 dropdown menu.

Donations of coffee, snacks, toiletries, and laundry detergent are accepted during the ministry’s regular operating 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 started in 2016. It is not uncommon for churches to receive requests for assistance. The staff determined that they had the valuable resource of a shower in the office wing bathroom to offer to people who didn’t have housing. Before the pandemic closed the doors on the ministry in March of 2022 it was averaging 35 showers per week and had a staff of 2 dedicated volunteers. During the pandemic, the church renovated a large storage space to include 2 ADA-compliant bathrooms and added two light-industrial washers and dryers. The renovations of the shower ministry space were funded in large part by the Boone County Fiscal Court and the R.C. Durr Foundation.

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

Shirley and Mark, guests of the Fresh Start Shower Ministry, stop in most mornings to take a shower, drop off an outfit or two to be laundered, and spend time with the friends they have made in their recent experience of homelessness.

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 that this experience has crushed their spirits. They are grateful for the good life they are living. They have children and grandchildren they delight in. They feel 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 guests of the Shower Ministry.

Florence Christian Church

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