Las Vegas Sands and Clean the World unveiled the first-of-its-kind service in Las Vegas to help the homeless population in July 2017. The Sands Cares Fresh Start Mobile Showers Powered by Clean the World is a traveling hygiene unit that visits locations serving those experiencing homelessness to provide showers, hygiene supplies and other resources available to them. Made possible by a more than $200,000 grant from LVS, the mobile hygiene unit has provided over 5,000 showers and travels to community partner locations, Monday through Friday. Partners include Stupak Center, Nevada Homeless Alliance, CARE Complex, WestCare and The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada. Las Vegas has the sixth largest population of homeless individuals among major cities and the third highest number of unaccompanied homeless youth. In 2015, Las Vegas Sands began a multi-faceted program to address homelessness in Las Vegas through its global corporate giving program, Sands Cares.
“Many of those experiencing homelessness are now fully aware of the Fresh Start Mobile Showers,” Robert Vickery, director of communications at WestCare, said. “They look forward to cooling off, getting clean, receiving a haircut and clean clothing before taking on the day. This service is well received since the outside temperatures are 99 degrees and above for half of the year.”
Vickery says WestCare remains committed to providing this service within the homeless community, since it is not only an opportunity for outreach, but it is a way for the organization to give back to the community. While WestCare also assists with tracking client information, they also help clients with filling out essential forms, providing resource information so they can receive medical attention and food.
“Many individuals are not looking for jobs, housing or other resources to better their lives as they want to remain unattached,” he said. “For some, the showers are the only thing they have to look forward to each week. WestCare has been able to acquire clients through the mobile showers by providing information onsite regarding the services that are available since there is a representative present at all stops and clients are able to learn about our detox program, Women and Children’s program, residential services and our Intensive Outpatient program. Westcare has a good reputation with this population due to community outreach. We know these people by name and we know their story. We keep track of their progress by simply asking them how they are doing or listening to updates on their lives.”
One of the most important services that has been provided to this population through WestCare is information from the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Because there is a WestCare representative on site, this population is able to receive notices that they otherwise would not have access to. For example, the HMIS informs a client if they have received housing, if they have been granted eligibility for food stamps or SNAP, if a family member has reported them missing and they want to contact that family member or if they have been granted a one-way bus ticket back to their home state.
“The mobile showers have changed the outlook for this population significantly,” Vickery said. “This unit provides a sense of hope, pride, and dignity. Many of our clients have experienced the ravages of life on the streets. A shower can assist with making them feel better and in some cases clean wounds that would otherwise go unclean. We have encouraged some individuals to seek medical attention for their conditions that would otherwise go untreated. For example, we provided a shower to a young lady who was beat up by her boyfriend. It was obvious she needed medical attention, but did not want to seek out that attention. Because she was a regular client, she trusted us enough to follow our advice. We were able to convince her to contact emergency services for treatment and she was transported to the hospital and after a few days, returned to thank us for helping her. This mobile shower unit has enabled us to create a network of resources for those experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental health challenges, and anyone who feels lost and in need of help.”