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Private, mobile showers give homeless a chance to refresh

Updated October 26, 2021 - 10:53 am

Private shower stalls are about to pop up across the Las Vegas Valley for homeless individuals wanting time to relax and refresh themselves.

Clark County, Caesars Entertainment and the Caesars Foundation are supporting a four-stall, self-sufficient mobile shower trailer through nonprofit Clean the World, leaders said during a Monday event at the LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada.

The “Fresh Start Wash and Wellness” trailer’s shower stalls each include a toilet, sink and shower. One stall is ADA-compliant. Users check in with Clean the World staff at the day’s location and receive a hygiene kit consisting of a bar of soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste. They then can use the stall for 20 to 30 minutes.

“We paid attention to making a shower experience that when somebody uses it, they really, really like it,” said Shawn Seipler, founder and CEO of Clean the World. “Porcelain toilets, natural light, air conditioning, heating, backsplash tiles and nice floors. The idea is for somebody who’s experiencing homelessness, when it’s time for them to get a shower, get that 20 to 30 minutes there in something that was built with love and designed to give them an awesome experience.”

Beyond showers

Trailers rotate through a schedule that parks them for about four hours at a time at various nonprofits in the valley. Partner agencies also bring wraparound services on-site so people can meet with a case manager for quality of life improvements, health screenings and vaccinations for hepatitis A and C, COVID-19 and more.

This week, the mobile unit will be at the Community Impact Center, New Beginnings Church in North Las Vegas, the LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada and Project 4 Humanity.

“In addition to getting a shower, they can meet with somebody that can help them from the job placement perspective, a drug rehabilitation perspective, mental health perspective, legal issues, etc.,” Seipler said. “What we see happens is as folks come to us to shower on a regular basis, they start to build relationships with those that are there.”

It’s not the only Clean the World trailer in Southern Nevada, Seipler said. The first appeared in 2017 through a partnership with Sands Cares. Two others operate in Southern Nevada now.

The four-stall mobile shower unit costs about $250,000 annually to operate, Seipler said. Caesars groups and the county are splitting the cost evenly. Caesars Foundation also committed to additional funding to continue the program over three years.

‘A real need’

Additionally, Caesars donates unused soap to Clean the World for the organization to sanitize and reprocess into new bars of soap included in the hygiene kits. Sean McBurney, regional president of Caesars Entertainment, said the initiative is part of the company’s corporate social responsibility program and its goal of addressing community needs.

“When you look at the opportunities in Las Vegas, there’s the vulnerable, and the unsheltered is a real need,” McBurney said. “This was one of the best ways to address one of the biggest needs that we see here in Southern Nevada and specifically Las Vegas.”

The units already in Southern Nevada have provided 28,000 showers in the county and 30,000 hygiene kits, according to Clean the World.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom said he supports the initiative in part because the wraparound services help connect with a population often difficult to reach.

“At the end of the day, it’s just a human dignity thing,” Segerblom said. “The fact that you could have somebody who’s living on the streets have a shower just for minutes, they can feel like a human being. That’s the kind of thing we’re trying to say: We appreciate what you’ve been through and we’re trying to give you a little something.”

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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