While taking a shower may be a daily task for many people, for others, it’s a luxury.
“Folks can count on a weekly shower, they can count on us being there. And, it’s funny—a lot of them will tell me, it’s their favorite day of the week, and I tell them we’re so glad to see you. It’s humbling because honestly, we’re just providing a shower,” Lance Olinski, StreetSide Showers’ founder, told Dallas Innovates. “And with that shower, we’re providing friendship, we’re providing community, and, it’s impacting their lives because it’s such a simple thing.”
Two years ago, after witnessing homelessness up close when he encountered a man washing himself in a public restroom, Olinski decided to do something about it.
Inspired by the mobility of some car washing and dog grooming companies, he did some digging and decided to bring the California-based Lava Mae mobile shower concept to Dallas. Since then, StreetSide Showers has provided more than 5,000 showers to people in the DFW area.
“It is just one of the most impactful things when people come to us to get a shower and we ask them, ‘How do you feel?’ and their response is, ‘I feel human again,’” Olinski says.
By partnering with local companies, these shower trailers provide an instant shower for all who step inside. Those using the showers are provided a toiletry bag and a clean pair of underwear.
“We’re just trying to restore some dignity and bring hope. The shower is just the tool, if we can help them stay clean, they feel a whole lot better,” Olinski says.
One story in particular has stuck with Olinski. After a man took a shower at a StreetSide Showers parked in Plano, he tried to hand Olinski money.
“I thought he was trying to pay for the shower and we don’t charge, we’re just trying to help people,” Olinski says. “And so, I was telling him, ‘No, the shower is free, the shower is for you and there’s no charge for this.’ Then he looks at me and says, ‘No, I understand that, I want to make a donation.’”
After Olinski accepted that $1.23 in change, he took it to the bank and deposited it in StreetSide Showers’ bank account, alongside another donation he received that day.
StreetSide Showers is currently available in four DFW communities and has one location in Florida. You can find ways to support the nonprofit here.
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