Once a week, a white trailer outfitted with two shower stalls rolls up to Abbotsford’s MCC Centre on Gladys Avenue.
People with few resources, often unhoused and using shelter services, are able to clean themselves up head-to-toe in privacy. The two shower areas are separated, and each is stocked with all the usual comforts of home. Each person who uses the service is also given a new pair of socks.
They are also getting back their dignity, even if just for a moment, noted Abbotsford mayor Ross Siemens. He thanked the Abbotsford-based Refresh Mobile Shower Ministry at a recent gathering to celebrate a large donation to their cause.
“I’m impressed and encouraged how you leaned in and saw a need,” he said to small group of volunteers, adding that they are making important connections in the community. It’s an example he hopes others in the community will follow.
“You are touch points with people in our community that are valuable, but don’t feel valuable,” he said. “You are restoring dignity.”
Siemens said that their work goes further than they may see, as the city is able to showcase the partnerships to visiting government members while asking for funding. For example, recently the new housing minister, Murray Rankin, was able to tour around Abbotsford and was impressed to see partnerships in town that make the most of funding available.
The ministry is a registered not-for-profit charity with a Christian-based vision, and has provided more than 2,600 showers since they began their work in 2019. They are now also providing showers in Maple Ridge as well, which is keeping the small group of volunteers as busy as ever.
Last week, they were presented with a $10,000 donation from an Abbotsford foundation to continue their work. Performer Blake Elliott presented the cheque from his ‘mister Blake foundation’ to Refresh Mobile Ministry on Jan. 19.
Elliott grew up in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, and has enjoyed some success over the last decade as a musician. He has been able to donate more than $500,000 to date, across various charities.
He was thrilled to be able to donate to the ministry, he said, and at the end of the ceremony he held up a pair of socks. They were a pair his late mother had given him years ago, and he had been holding onto as a keepsake.
“She was always buying me socks,” he said, adding that the pair would have been purchased at Goslings, downtown Abbotsford many years ago.
“I thought ‘I’ll donate those some dear little soul,’” he said.
To learn more, visit refreshmobileshowerministry.ca.