CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – As service agencies around the country rolled out stringent precautions against COVID-19, some even closing their doors, local partners stepped up to provide local people experiencing homelessness with basic personal hygiene.
“Two weeks after COVID-19 restrictions began and Clarksville-Montgomery County businesses were shut down, a partner agency of the United Way of the Greater Clarksville Region reached out to say that local homeless people were worried about their well-being because of park and restaurant closures,” said Martias Kendrick, project coordinator for the City’s Office of Housing & Community Development. “They were without access to restrooms, which left them unable to follow the CDC COVID-19 hand-washing guidelines, much less use the restroom or take care of typical hygiene needs.”
Members of United Way of the Greater Clarksville Region began working with City and County officials to find a way to get shower services to the homeless. United Way secured an agreement with Shower Up Nashville to provide shower trucks. The first shower event took place on March 27 at the Regional Planning Commission’s parking lot and has continued each Friday at various downtown locations. Recently, United Way secured a more permanent location in the parking lot of The Well on Union Street and will continue to host the event every Friday.
In addition to United Way and Shower Up Nashville, organizations such as YAIPaks, Operation Stand Down, and others joined the effort to give back to the homeless.
“Housing and Community Development secured additional resources for the shower events such as obtaining the tents, tables, traffic cones, and trash receptacles from Clarksville Parks & Recreation, as well as getting free WiFi access to the shower location each week,” Kendrick said.
Kendrick works closely with the United Way Director Valerie Guzman each week to help coordinate the volunteer groups and partner agencies involved in the shower events. He also collaborates with United Way in weekly Zoom calls with Tennessee Emergency Management Agency where information and ideas are shared by agencies across the state about COVID-19 guidelines, community responses, and services.
Housing & Community Development also is working with the local United Way to develop a plan for emergency COVID-19 housing for the homeless in Clarksville, an idea partly borne from listening to the homeless people being served by the shower events.
United Way secured Shower Up Nashville for the ongoing shower events in Dow
ntown Clarksville to provide facilities to the homeless.
Council Woman Valerie Guzman talks with members of the community at the Shower Up event on Thursday, March 2, 2020.