stltoday.comSometimes, nothing feels better than a hot shower. But when you’re homeless, hot showers are hard to come by. One St. Louis, Mo,. pastor changes all that, however, with a new nonprofit called Shower to the People.

The pastor, Jake Austin, bought a truck for $5,000 and modified it to equip it with shower stalls and sinks. In June, Shower to the People will make its debut, bringing hope and cleanliness to St. Louis’s homeless.

Shower to the People made headlines in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently, and we thought those of you with CDL driver jobs would be inspired by reading about it, too. Austin has serviced homeless people throughout his career, but his new endeavor is unique.

The idea for it struck him a couple of years ago.

One day in fall 2014, when Austin was distributing soap and hygiene supplies to the homeless in downtown St. Louis, he offered a bar of soap to a man who came up to the table. The soap is nice, the man said, but where would he use it? He had plenty of clothes and food, but he hadn’t had a shower in two months and had a job interview in two days.

Austin was embarrassed he hadn’t thought about this earlier. “People can get food and clothes, but if they haven’t had a shower in three months, they can’t get a job even flipping burgers,” he said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story.

And that’s how Austin came up with the idea for Shower to the People.

The truck-turned-portable showering-unit has two shower stalls with curtains for privacy and two sinks inside. Sinks on the outside will allow homeless to brush their teeth, wash their faces and shave. According to the story, the truck will connect to fire hydrants, and a generator on the outside will run a water heater on the inside.

Austin figures if the truck is parked in one place for six to eight hours, it would be long enough to give 60 people showers. The truck would move to different locations throughout the week.

He knows of only one other organization in the country that does this, a group called Lava Mae in San Francisco that converts buses into shower units.

Austin is setting his own course here.

He got nonprofit status for his endeavor. He’s getting the proper permits and support from City Hall, and hopes to have the Shower to the People truck rolling and out on test stops within a couple of weeks. Its grand debut will be June 4 in Soulard, just south of downtown St. Louis.

“I decided I’m going to do one thing really well, and that’s hygiene,” Austin told the newspaper.

Austin hopes to one day employ homeless people by hiring them to make soap. Other nonprofits have contributed to the effort, too.


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