Chris Bentley and Carlos Miller, two African-American men who have been friends since middle school, have started an innovative way to help the homeless of Palm Beach County, Fla.
The two started a nonprofit—Live FRESH (Feeling Revitalized Encourages Sustainable Happiness)—and have launched a mobile shower facility, an air-conditioned trailer equipped with six private shower/changing-area rooms, to assist the area’s transient population.
The Palm Beach Post reports that the two chose showers specifically: “For us, that’s where dignity and self-respect starts … with the ability to stay clean and be presentable,” says Bentley. “Cleanliness is a fundamental need. We actually see it as basic human right, and because the homeless population can be hard to reach, we knew we would have to come to them and make ourselves available in areas they could easily reach.”
Miller writes on the website: “To see a human being, living in the United States of all countries, walk inside a store with apprehension over being shunned or offensive to the atmosphere due to their odor or disheveled state grabbed at the core of my heart.”
About 250 people have participated since the program began March 31, reports the Post. Each participant gets a packet with personal hygiene essentials including deodorant, towels, soap, shampoo, conditioner, a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss. The organization was able to launch its fund with a $100,000 grant from Impact the Palm Beaches and smaller donations from other organizations.
Live Fresh has also partnered with Genesis Community Health Center to offer a visiting clinic with various health screenings, including HIV counseling and testing, at each stop once a month.
“One man likened it like raindrops from heaven,” says Miller. “Some told us they hadn’t showered in almost three weeks. It’s important for everyone to have the space and privacy to do something as intimate as this. And feeling clean and refreshed is a game changer.”
Read more at the Palm Beach Post.