CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The City of Charleston always gets an increase in homeless people during the summer as transients from neighboring states make their way to the capital city.
But this year, there’s a lack of services for them, including shower facilities.
Bream Presbyterian Memorial Church in Charleston’s West Side just started a new program to fill that void on Monday.
Unlike in shelters, which require anyone taking a shower to be a resident of the shelter, they will not ask any questions, nor will they ask for an ID which can be a barrier for some of the homeless.
Last summer, a now fenced-off building owned by the West Virginia DHHR in downtown Charleston on Smith Street served as temporary drop-in shower facilities for Charleston’s homeless.
But as this summer neared, options like it had dried up due to the pandemic, leaving many of the area’s homeless without a place to bathe — even in 95-degree heat.
“There’s a lot of people coming in which have not been as clean as usual and we’ve talked with Manna Meal and Kanawha Valley Collective and they’re seeing the same thing so we decided to do something about it,” said Derek Hudson, outreach coordinator with Bream Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Hudson says they first noticed the need at their food pantry.
With the help of the Appalachian Service Project who installed PVC pipes, they were able to put their large men’s and women’s shower facilities behind the church to use again.
Kanawha Valley Collective, Manna Meal, and United Way have also helped with clothing and toiletry donations.
Bream Memorial pastor Dawn Adamy says she’s not worried about transients coming through the church.
“It’s the part of fulfilling our call to love our neighbor and to care about the people around us, we all know when you’re not sheltered and you don’t have access to a safe place most of the day — where would you go?”
Although they just started Monday, the program has already given a refreshing bath to some.
“Two people just left, they took full advantage of everything,” said Hudson on Wednesday afternoon.
“They got themselves a little shave, brushed their teeth, took a cold shower; they really wanted a cold shower and they were very excited about new clothes and new underwear to put on but who wouldn’t be?”
The shower facilities at Bream Memorial Church are open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.