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Minnesota couple builds mobile shower for homeless to bathe

May 27, 2019
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Jason Jaques and Nancy Dyson stand next to their mobile shower van they will operate as part of their nonprofit, Neighbors to Friends, during an interview Saturday, May 18, 2019, in Sauk Rapids, Minn. (Dave Schwarz/The St. Cloud Times via AP)

SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) — After learning about a lack of places for homeless people to shower, a Sauk Rapids couple will begin running a mobile shower unit in June.

Nancy Dyson and Jason Jaques first brainstormed locations where homeless people could access showers after someone asked if they knew of places to go.

“We just looked at each other like, ‘I don’t (know),’” Dyson said. “It was heartbreaking.”

The pair started a “quest” to find options in the area, but they found limited places would work, Jaques said.

“We can do better than that,” Dyson said. “We have to do better than that.”

Jaques and Dyson began working on the idea of a self-contained unit, built in a small passenger van, a couple years ago.

Known as Shower the People, it will be operated under the couple’s nonprofit, Neighbors to Friends. The van will be ready for its first showers June 4 at Kipp’s Laundry starting about 10 a.m., according to Jaques.

Jaques and Dyson plan to take the truck to people who need it, providing access to a shower as well as meals and time to hang out, the St. Cloud Times reported.

It’s one way they can help give people “a little slice of their dignity back,” Dyson said.

Jaques and Dyson began working to help people who are homeless in the St. Cloud area about five and a half years ago, according to Dyson.

They organized a local effort to provide laundry services to those in need and recently turned their efforts into their nonprofit, Neighbors to Friends.

A plumber recently came to pick up the water heater and finish the water lines, Jaques said.

There’s still cosmetic work needed to finish the van, which contains one shower and a 105-gallon freshwater tank, according to Jaques.

They are also planning on putting chairs in the bathroom and adding a ramp to make it accessible.

If somebody needs a shower before the ramp is added, Jaques said, they will be able to bring the person to a more accessible place to shower.

“We’re not going to turn anybody away,” Jaques said.

Jaques estimates the tank will hold enough water for 8-10 showers before needing to be refilled.

“The main thing is that if it’s your turn for a shower that you have all the time you need,” Dyson said.

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Information from: St. Cloud Times, http://www.sctimes.com

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