Through the implementation of the Fresh Start Mobile Showers, WestCare partnered with Sands Cares, Las Vegas Sands’ corporate giving program, as a local stop for providing the community’s homeless population with private showering facilities. As the mobile showers began to gain traction, WestCare has been an important partner in assisting those experiencing homelessness in the Las Vegas area.
“Today in Southern Nevada, WestCare provides a comprehensive continuum of care to 10,000 people annually,” Robert Vickery, director of communications, said. “We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or gender identity and we’re recognized nationally for clinical excellence, coordinated access, and collaborative innovation. Through street outreach, we are able to deal with traumatic life challenges. As we’ve been working with the mobile showers, we’ve noticed more interest in our services. Some people arrive for a shower under the influence of drugs or alcohol and from there we can help them get into one of our detox programs.”
Through Sands Cares, Las Vegas Sands is leading the way to bring positive change to the significant homelessness problem in Las Vegas. Working with various agencies and partners in the community, Las Vegas Sands believes in playing an active role to bring new solutions and resources to address the issue. Las Vegas has the third largest unaccompanied homeless youth population, with more than 80% unsheltered, the highest rate in the nation and the sixth largest population of homeless individuals among major cities.
“We recognize that we cannot depend on government funding alone to serve our communities,” Vickery, said. “We need corporate partners to assist in our mission. Our clients are most often the most under-resourced, underinsured, and underfunded people that desperately need a safety net. We are uniquely positioned to serve these individuals, many of which are experiencing homelessness. The mobile shower is often the closest thing they have to restore their sense of dignity and at the same time, we can share our services with them and help with whatever they may need.”
In operation since 1973, WestCare was created to provide community-based substance abuse treatment for people who are indigent or from low-income households who would not otherwise have had access to treatment services. Within a few years, the organization responded to the community's need for expanded substance abuse treatment. Additional services offered to the homeless population are housing, transportation to their home state if needed, and needs assessment, where WestCare allows individuals into the showers, but at the same time, gathers additional information to see if they need medical attention or other services.
“We try to listen and then we are able to provide information on housing, employment, obtaining identification cards or birth certificates,” Vickery said. “Many of the clients we have at the mobile showers have legal or criminal records and do not know how to resolve it. We have been able to look up their record, give them the name and number of the organization to contact for resolution. Again, this all begins or happens at the mobile showers. WestCare continues to meet the needs of individuals that are experiencing a shortage of services or care and we have always been the banner of hope for so many of our marginalized men, women, and families that simply have nowhere else to turn.”