Before you meet Laureen Jenkins and Project Outpour, there are some things you need to know first:
There are over 1,700 homeless people in Charlotte.
There are only four showers in Charlotte meant to serve those 1,700 people.
There’s red tape involved even in acts of kindness.
Okay, now you’re ready to meet Laureen and Project Outpour.
Laureen Jenkins was living in Dallas, Texas when she struck up a conversation with a homeless man. In the course of that conversation, he told Laureen it had been two weeks since his last shower. Weeks, ya’ll. When was the last time you went more than a day or two without showering? So after that conversation, Laureen was driving back to her office and passed a food truck. “The light bulb went off…I remember thinking, man, we can put food on trucks so why can’t we put a shower on a truck and hit the streets?” And the seed of Project Outpour was planted. So fast forward to 2018.
Laureen is living in the Queen City and Project Outpour is a 501(C)(3) non-profit that will be hitting the streets of Charlotte in February 2019, providing showers to Charlotte’s homeless neighbors. Laureen spent a few years researching other cities with successful mobile showers (like Lava Mae in San Francisco and Streetside Showers in Dallas), she wrote up a business plan and has spent the last year working out the details with the city. There’s a lot of red tape. Who knew disposing of water would be one of the biggest challenges? Thankfully, the city doesn’t let black water and greywater be dumped just anywhere but Laureen has met multiple times with Charlotte Water to make sure Project Outpour is draining the water properly.
Project Outpour has actually gotten some pushback from people who think a shower isn’t enough. To that, Laureen points to the importance of dignity which is a basic human right that a shower can provide. But to be clear, Project Outpour is more than a shower. Laureen has been working with local shelters, soup kitchens, and churches. It is her goal to have Project Outpour serve as a channel to connect homeless neighbors with agencies that will help meet their needs. Other goals include flu shots, HIV testing, haircuts, clothing donations…Project Outpour is a holistic approach to dignity.
Laureen has also sat down with a number of Charlotte’s homeless men and women so she has heard from them how important a shower is. She’s been told “there’s a happier person that emerges after a shower” and “this shower enables me to keep my job.”
How can you get involved?
Project Outpour needs 30 more volunteers for Rocktoberfest. If they provide 80 volunteers, a generous donation is made that will go towards paying off the shower trailer (Project Outpour just sent in the down payment and the trailer is being built right now).
Donate to their Indiegogo campaign! If you can’t donate (or even if you can), consider sharing it so other people in your network can help them reach their goal.
Follow @projectoutpourclt and find us on Facebook.