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Winston shower program gives homeless a chance to stay clean

The idea is to give homeless people in Douglas County a place to wash up every week.

Posted: Jul 14, 2020 6:28 PM

WINSTON, Ore. -- In the pavilion at Southriver Community Health Center sits a little white trailer once a week. That trailer is actually a portable shower for homeless people.

The shower program is run by the center along with Great Douglas United Way, Salvation Army and other local organizations. The idea is to give homeless people in Douglas County a place to wash up every week.

Organizers said this shower program is the only one of its kind in Douglas County. They said anyone is welcome to use the shower as long as they can make the trip to Winston.

"It's just a good way to gain access to the things they need at that particular moment,” said Wayne Ellsworth, the homeless outreach coordinator at Southriver.

With the help of their community partners, Ellsworth said they are also able to hand out items the homeless people need.

“They will pick out two pairs of clothes, one to change into and one to take with them,” said Ellsworth. “Then, they will access the shower. A shower usually lasts 15 to 20 minutes.”

Ellsworth said they are taking strict precautions with COVID-19 as well. He said a person cannot enter the shower unless they pass a COVID-19 screening.

He said they’re also disinfecting the shower after each use.

“We have basic expectations as simple as no profanity, no intimidation and they abide by social distancing,” said Ellsworth.

Ellsworth runs the shower program every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

However, he said he’s hopeful this program will become more successful as it moves along.

“People are gaining access to resources that they’ve never thought about before because they’re feeling clean,” said Ellsworth.

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