SAN LEANDRO (KPIX 5) — In San Leandro, a homeless assistance program is about to become homeless itself. “April Showers” began in tragedy when a well-known homeless man was found dead in a parking lot. So, a group of churches got together and asked a question: what is the single most important thing they could do to help the homeless?
The answer was a shower, a way to stay clean. It’s what’s often missing from life on the streets and can drag newly-homeless people into a spiral of despair.
“You’re used to being clean all the time and now you’re living in your car,” said Paul “Red” Garrison, who was recently homeless. “Nowhere to go…you know, you just sit in your car all day.”
“If you have a job and you can’t stay clean, you can’t continue to work,” lead volunteer Noel Moritz told KPIX 5 reporter John Ramos. “And we still have guests today that will say, ‘I can work tomorrow because I showered today.’”
April Showers operates out of the San Leandro Boys and Girls Club. The facility has a kitchen and dining hall and, most importantly, large shower rooms for men and women.
Every other Sunday for more than 15 years, the program has offered a meal, fresh clothing, haircuts and a chance to get clean. Michael Morgan was the first one to step through the doors when the program began.
“I was coming down the street and some lady asked me, ‘Do you want to shower, eat and get some clothes?’” he recalled. “First I thought it was…uh, I thought it wasn’t real.”
It’s real, but it’s also in trouble. This summer, the Boys and Girls Club will close for renovation for up to two years. April Showers needs to find a new temporary home somewhere in San Leandro with a dining space and shower facility, or at least a place with water and a sewer hookup for a portable shower unit.
They’re hoping someone from the community will step up to help.
“You know, you’ve got to help the people who are helping people, because we’re all in it together,” said a homeless East Bay resident named Dan.
It’s not a huge risk. The program is established and well organized with a committed group of volunteers who are willing to put their faith into practice.
“This is my church,” said Moritz. “The joy in their faces when I hand them a bag of food that they can use for the week…that’s my church.”
Right now, it seems like April Showers has until August to find a new home, but they say they have to figure this out a lot sooner than that because it takes a while to get the word out to the people who rely on this program.
If you know of a location that might work or just want more information, click here to visit the April Showers website.