Faith, Family & Friends of Highland County, a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is creating a facility where under-served, homeless and working poor people from Highland County and nearby counties can take a shower and wash their clothes for free, Highland County Church of Christ Pastor Karl Flem told The Times-Gazette.
The program is known as the Shower Wash Shuttle, Flem said, and once the project is complete, those who would like to use the facilities will be able to shower, wash their clothes and eat at no cost.
“We will transport them if they don’t have transportation to get a shower and get their clothes washed — free of charge,” Flem said. “What we’re doing is offering a place, free of charge, where the folks can get a shower — men on Tuesdays; ladies on Thursdays — get their clothes washed. We’re going to give them a little package of hygiene items. We’re going to feed them if they’re hungry. We’ve been in contact with a company in Hillsboro that is a second-chance employer — they’ll hire felons. In fact, we’ve got another man who had been homeless, and we found employment for him and are mentoring and encouraging him.”
According to Flem, the idea for providing a location where those in need can shower and washing their clothes came from an experience with a local woman who was struggling with substance abuse disorder.
“We had a man who was released in prison about a year ago. We met him before he went back to prison, and he was basically homeless. We were working with him at the church, and we were working on putting bathrooms in with a shower and a washer and dryer. He overdosed and died. I conducted his funeral,” Flem said. “While he was with us, he met a young lady who was on meth, and she was just in bad shape. Young woman, probably early to mid-20s, who had been beautiful at one time. Myself and another man from the church received a phone call wanting a place where she could take a shower. There is an angel in Hillsboro, and she opened up her home so this young woman could get a shower. We — myself and Dale Schraw — went, picked her up, and got her the shower. She’s gone through rehab and is a totally different person. When we picked her up, she had these lesions all over her arms and her face where she had been scratching, and all she would do was grunt at us. I haven’t seen her since then, but I understand she’s doing very well.”
The shower and laundry facilities will be located in the Highland County Church of Christ’s annex building at 6670 U.S. Route 50, just west of the Hillsboro city limits.
Before Faith, Family & Friends of Highland County renovated it, the annex building only had a concrete floor, four walls and a ceiling, Flem said. Since then, the organization has spent an estimated $20,000 to prepare the annex building to house shower and laundry facilities. In order to complete the project, Flem said the organization still needs to raise another $10,000.
Flem said community members have already donated a washer and dryer as well as various types of labor needed to renovate the annex.
“We believe in a ‘hand up’ not a ‘hand out’ meeting the need of consistent basic hygiene to those without,” Flem and organization members Dale and Karen Schraw and Randy Plikerd said in a press release. “Engaging with the lost and broken is key to restoring the hope so desperately lost in today’s society… It’s more than just a shower. It’s about rehumanizing the individual by meeting basic needs. The next time you get out of the shower, stop and think about just how good you feel. It’s that times 10 for our guests. Our goal is to restore hope and dignity through showers, clean socks, underwear, and hygiene kits for those in need. Helping the homeless helps us all!”
The Faith, Family & Friends of Highland County is in the process of creating a Facebook page, but in the meantime, those who would like to donate should mail a check payable to the Faith, Family & Friends of Highland County at P.O. Box 228, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.
Those who are interested in volunteering should contact Karl Flem at 513-630-5299.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.