Wednesday, despite rain falling heavily throughout the morning and afternoon, homeless people seeking warm meals, showers and a variety of other services made their way to Holy Family Catholic Church’s St. Joseph’s Center in South Pasadena.
Under the shelter of a roof, they sat on benches enjoying cheeseburgers grilled by members of the South Pasadena Police Association. A few steps away, a mobile four-unit shower was parked next to a tent equipped with a shaving razor and a spread of hygiene essentials, raingear and a licensed cosmologist available to cut hair.
Ever since the church partnered with the nonprofit organization Shower of Hope last June, which currently sends its mobile showers to three locations a week, St. Joseph’s has served roughly 30 people every Wednesday who are living on the streets.
Marlene Moore, Holy Family’s Director of Community Services, has dedicated her life to serving the underprivileged.
It was Moore’s idea to partner with Shower of Hope. “I wanted people to see that we can serve our friends and not make a negative impact on the community,” she added, referring to a common worry that homeless outreach services could negatively impact neighborhoods they are offered in.
South Pasadena Police Sergeant Shannon Robledo said of Wednesday’s event, “We are trying to be creative in providing our homeless friends resources. We felt this was a great opportunity to reach people. When we are able to contact and reach out to people, they reach out to us, and then we are able to get them help.”
“I am so thankful that our police in South Pasadena share our compassion for our homeless friends,” Moore added. “They are not working against me, they are working with me.”
The outreach effort included handing out rain gear. At one point, Moore was informed there were no more ponchos. The service is technically scheduled to end at 2 p.m., but Moore said it often lasts later. It was only 1 p.m. “Now I’m not going to be okay until we find some more ponchos,” Moore said, resolutely.
Outside, under a rain jacket, Jo Dominguez, one of the members of Shower of Hope, talked passionately about the impact the organization has already had.
“The mobile unit enables people interested in helping, but lacking the platform, to come out where we go and provide additional services,” Dominguez said.
The idea for the mobile service came in June of 2016, originally in the form of a food truck. Food was already provided for to an extent by shelters and food banks, but the idea of a mobile service was intriguing. Courtesy of a donor, the mobile four-unit truck costed roughly $27,000, without accounting for insurance and driver’s fees.
In addition to South Pasadena, Shower of Hope visits Highland Park every Saturday and a two-unit truck visits Huntington Park every Thursday.
Lisa Marie Nava, the on-the-grounds coordinator for the service, says the group has much bigger goals.
“In the long run we’d obviously like to get people housing,” she said. “We’d like to get more people into the Coordinated Entry System.”
Special services have been provided in the past. A clinic that offered a variety of shots to homeless and volunteers just a couple of months ago.
Among the other services Nava says Shower of Hope wants to provide are eye clinics and mobile mammograms.