Pennies for Showers helps the homeless
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Former Madera City Councilman Derek Robinson is the President of the Pennies For Showers program in Madera. His hope is to provide showers to the less fortunate and homeless in the Madera community.
Several local Maderans put their heads together to try to help the homeless population within the city and came up with “Pennies for Showers,” which is an initiative to provide showers to the less fortunate in the community.
“We want to make sure the homeless and unfortunate have mobile shower units for them to take showers,” said Madera’s Pennies For Showers President Derek Robinson. “We’re raising funds to get that shower unit. We have jars at different businesses or people can mail in donations.”
In the six months Pennies for Showers has been active in Madera, they have raised about $5,000 with a goal of about $90,000, which is the cost of a unit, including the truck to transport it.
“People have been calling me about when the showers will be ready,” Robinson said. “There’s a big need for it. I saw a homeless guy walking the other day in 100 degree heat with a coat on. We have people who are mentally ill, or kicked out of the foster care, or teenagers abused walking around, and ladies that have been beaten up walking around. We’re bringing people over the border, but we’re not taking care of our own citizens.”
Pennies for Showers will host a barbecue at Rotary park on July 31, beginning at 10 a.m., to give the community a chance to meet with some of Madera’s homeless population.
“We’re putting on a barbecue for the community to come together with the homeless population to create trust and interact with each other,” Robinson said. “I’ve contacted a church group to entertain the people. Not just to clean the people, but to clean their souls.”
Not only will Robinson use the event as a way for the community and the homeless to get together, but it’s a way to get the community to contribute to help the population.
“People complain about the homeless using their water hose to clean up,” Robinson said. “That has been going on for years. I’ve seen them taking baths in the lake when it was full. They are covered with bugs and dirt. Our purpose is to meet a need — make sure the homeless have a place to take a shower.”
Getting the homeless cleaned up is kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, the community doesn’t want to see them walking around areas, but on the other hand, there isn’t a place for the homeless to clean up to look decent.
“One of the main problems for the homeless is to have a shower so they can look decent and go into the community,” Robinson said. “It gives them a positive morale. You’ve seen online when you clean up a homeless person, they look like a million dollars.”
Over the past six months, Robinson, along with vice presidents Mario Lopez, Dora Range, Cindy Wilson, secretary Lynn Cogdill, treasurer Ildiko Cogdill, board members Wesley Stupar, Richard Torres and David Alvarez have met with the homeless community.
“In the past seven months, we have been trying to build trust with the homeless community,” Lynn Cogdill said. “This barbecue is one of our biggest events to create trust for everyone. It puts a face on the homeless person. By putting a face on them, they will think they have a name and a purpose.”
Madera’s Pennies for Showers will also host a dinner event on Sept. 18 where they will answer any questions about Pennies for Showers.
“We have a crew from Lodi and Stockton that is coming down to give a presentation to anyone interested in finding out how it works,” Cogdill said. “There are success stories of bringing people out of homelessness because of these showers.”
There is a mobile Pennies for Shower unit for the Lodi/Stockton area and Cogdill hopes to educate those interested in why Madera needs a unit.
“This dinner is for the politicians or anyone that interested,” he said. “They can get educated on how it works. They have been doing it for two years. They have videos about how people are telling them how they are getting out of homelessness because of getting a shower.”
However, for next week’s barbecue, Cogdill and Robinson expect more than 400 people to attend the event. Robinson will get his apron on to do most of the cooking, but there will be plenty of help. He hopes to bring in those who are interested and also show that the homeless population are regular people.
Pennies for Showers hopes to provide the less fortunate with dignity, self-respect, hope, optimism, confidence and opportunities to move forward out of homelessness.
Cogdill estimates that the unit, which will have two showers with three stalls, and are ADA accessible, will produce 26,000 showers a year running six days a week for eight hours a day. If the city and county provides the water, sewage and electricity for both units, the cost for the units would be under $20,000 or just 77 cents a shower.
For information on Pennies for Showers, visit their Facebook Page “Pennies for Showers” or the Facebook Group Page, also Pennies for Showers.