We are extremely fortunate to have these wonderful and caring essential workers from Memorial Hospital volunteering with us and joining our mission by selflessly giving of their time, hearts, and kindness. In life, it is important to view everything from a different point of view, and sometimes put ourselves in other’s shoes.
Our sincere gratitude goes out to the entire team and faculty at Memorial Hospital that volunteered their time and efforts to Showering Love. There are too many to name, but you know who you are! We love and appreciate each of you and look forward to seeing you again at our event on March 13th!
Diane Gonzales of Memorial Hospital shares her experience
Speaking of varying points of view, we were honored by the presence of a very special volunteer from Memorial Hospital, Diane Gonzales. She attended one of our events and eloquently shared her compassionate perspective with us through her writings. She chronicled her emotions, thoughts, and details of the time she spent with our guests, and we would like to share it with you:
“For me, there is nothing better than a hot shower. Whether it be a ‘wake me up in the morning’ shower or a ‘relax me’ at the end of a busy day, I realized recently that I, like many, take for granted such a luxury. Yes, a luxury, because for the estimated 2,300+ homeless individuals in Broward County, being able to take a shower or even find a safe place to get clean is a rarity.
Through a volunteer opportunity with the HERO “HIVE” at Memorial Hospital System (MHS), I witnessed a unique and innovative nonprofit organization in action, Showering Love, Inc. (ShoweringLove.Org), a mobile bus offering hot showers to Broward County’s homeless. I was introduced to their pride and joy, “Grace”, a former Miami Metro City Bus that had been retrofitted with two bathrooms (each with a shower, sink, and commode). This bus travels to four locations in Broward County weekly and provides 35-40 hot showers per location to the homeless in Broward County.
Showering Love had an auspicious beginning. Jeanne Albaugh, the President and Founder of Showering Love, Inc., realized how important, and how lacking, showers were when she found herself homeless. A strong and inspirational woman, Albaugh had a vision of providing mobile showers that could go wherever the homeless were. She made her vision a reality and with the commitment of many dedicated individuals/companies and many hours of volunteer labor, her first baby, “Grace” was born. As Albaugh said herself, “Grace” is more than a shower… it provides hope, support and caring to the vulnerable among us. PS: A second, even larger, mobile shower, “Faith” is currently being retrofitted and should be operational this year.
Showering Love’s “Grace” was parked outside the Jubilee Center in Hollywood on a rainy Monday morning. While we volunteers found refuge under canopies and cars during the rain shower, we saw the many homeless standing in the rain. The homeless are well familiar with living/sleeping under the skies in the changing South Florida weather. A few lucky had sleeping bags which they closely guarded, but many others slept directly in the grass or on concrete. I saw one woman with a tent, but with the cold front expected during the week, we knew even the tent would provide very little protection.
People of all ages, races/ethnicities, waited patiently for their shower and for the other services being provided by community groups that day (COVID tests, sandwiches, and a hot lunch from the Jubilee Center’s soup kitchen). Some other well-appreciated items were “sleeping bags” made from recycled sterilized surgical drapes from many Memorial Hospitals (sewn by the MHS HIVE to provide additional warmth), woven plastic sleep mats from recycled plastic shopping bags made by students at St Thomas High School, and the MHS HIVE (these mats provide additional cushioning, as well as keep sleeping bags and bodies from getting wet), and personal hygiene kits with inspirational messages, also by the MHS HIVE. All were lightweight and easily carried, which is important as the homeless carry their lives and valued possessions in bags, backpacks, and on their backs.
As a volunteer, our jobs were pretty easy. We cleaned and sanitized the two bathrooms, ensured that each of our guests had their own personal toiletries, and picked out clean new clothes for guests to wear after their shower (each guest was given a shirt, pants, underwear, and Bombas socks). We also provided a smile, words of supports, and answered questions. We were ably trained by Gina, who was once homeless herself, had met Albaugh while on the streets, and was encouraged by Albaugh to better her life. Gina attributes Albaugh for changing the trajectory of her life and now has a home and a job working for Showering Love. Gina’s kindness and empathy towards the guests so evident; I have a feeling that Gina hopes someday that she can inspire and encourage her guests towards a better life, just like Albaugh did for her.
It was inspiring to see the transformation of our guests after their showers. They smiled and walked a little taller. I like to think that they felt the “shower of love” while in “Grace”, and that love will sustain them in the hard days ahead.”
There are so many ways you can help the homeless, please join us in any way you can:
Volunteer for Showering Love at one of their shower sites. They visit four locations per week in Hollywood, Davie, and Pompano Beach. More information is on their website, ShoweringLove.org.
Donate to ShoweringLove.org (501c(3) charity either through a monetary donation, or order them items on Amazon.com (more information is on their website). They can always use new clothing. All new clothing item is welcomed, but especially T-shirts, underwear, socks, sample size toiletries (deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, disposable razors). Do you have special skills and are looking for a way to give? Ask them how you can help.
Assemble together hygiene kits (plastic bags with toothbrushes, mini toothpaste, comb, small bottles of shampoo, and soap/body wash. An inspirational, “we’re thinking of you” note is appreciated). This is a perfect activity for a group of family, friends, church groups, etc., and can easily be done in the privacy of your home.
Are you crafty? Do you like to sew? Help sew “sleeping bags”, face masks, or weave mats. This can also be done at your home during your free time. Contact us!
Do you like to cook? The Jubilee Center is always looking for food donations or extra hands in their soup kitchen. They provide 150 hot meals at lunch, five days per week. More information: jubileecenterbroward.org.”
There is only one way to see things until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes.” -Pablo Picasso