'Shower to the People': Homeless in Seattle Get Clean With Dignity

Oct 4, 2010
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.

Imagine you have no home, and you've gone weeks without a hot shower.

What do you do?

If you're around Seattle, Washington, you find Frank Fargo.

Frank and Louise Fargo in front of their trailer where they offer hot showers to the homeless. (Photo courtesy of Frank Fargo)

The 57-year-old carpenter and his wife, Louise, are on a mission to help the homeless by offering free showers.

Having met people suffering from homelessness while volunteering at his church, Frank thought about the simple comforts we take for granted. He picked up the book Under the Overpass.

The story is of a man who becomes homeless for several months and struggles with not having access to a shower for weeks at a time. Moved by the book, Frank thought, "Wow, there really is a need."

Frank told Louise his idea of offering free showers. She had one very important suggestion.

She said, "Frankie, you’re going to be giving them showers. When they get out of the showers, are they going to put their dirty clothes back on? I think we should give them clean clothes.”

Frank agreed, then dug into his wallet and bought a trailer. He outfitted it with a larger shower and purchased hot water tanks.

People line up and receive this Shower to the People card before their shower. (Photo courtesy of Frank Fargo)

He got permission from the city, the chief of police and the churches where he hoped to park his trailer. His wife stocked up on toiletries, towels, T-shirts, socks and underwear.

Shower to the People was born.

You can find Frank at two Washington churches, one in Everett and the other in Lynwood, on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

Since the Fargos started their endeavor in 2008, they have given more than 1,020 showers. On any given day, up to 21 people come to the Shower to the People trailer.

Frank says, "They love us so much, its unbelievable. I’ve done a lot of things in my life to help people, but I don’t get any more gratitude than this."

Shower to the People is a play on the phrase "Power to the People" Frank says.

Hopefully, a little shampoo, fresh clothes and a touch of kindness will help empower people suffering from homelessness to get back on their feet.

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