Camillus Shower Program Helping Homeless Women

Monday, August 5, 2019 by Melissa Mathe

Geraldine and her team of committed volunteers work at Women’s Shower Program at Camillus House, starting her morning promptly at 6:00 am to prepare for the influx of homeless women soon to arrive. In operations now for the past fifteen years, the Women’s Shower Program is the only program for women living on the street to shower in Miami-Dade County.

To the average person, a shower is easily and readily accessible, but for a homeless individual on the streets, it can be near impossible to attain. Homeless women consistently face issues, including access to hygiene supplies, constant fear of sexual assault, and difficulty in obtaining medical services. Although a shower may not fix every problem associated with women and homelessness, it can provide a sense of self-esteem for women who live on the street.

The Women’s Shower Program addresses the many concerns and needs of homeless women in the Miami area. Women from the streets are welcomed to a safe place to shower from 6:30am-10:30 am Monday thru Friday. For many homeless women living on the streets of Miami, the shower program is, in fact, the first introduction to services offered by Camillus House. When women access the services, they can pick their own clothes and have the dignity of a safe and clean place to shower. Pouring hospitality in all that is done Camillus is the guiding principal of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, an order of Catholic Brothers who sponsor Camillus House.

The Women’s Shower Program powerfully impacts homeless women by serving as a conduit to other services that address physical, social, mental, and emotional needs.

Geraldine admits, “some come in here without anything, not even a pair of shoes."  

 “Many times, guests have cried on my shoulders telling me their stories, and I am here to listen,” explains Geraldine. In fact, Geraldine speaks warmly and with compassion of the countless women who enter and have chosen to share their story with her. “

I share my story, too; we all have a story!” Geraldine recall the love she felt in sharing her story with the women she helps.

Since Camillus House provides each woman with items such as a towel and hygiene kit with shampoo, conditioner, a razor, toothpaste, and toothbrush, the program is always in recurrent need of hygiene items. “All hygiene products are fully donated,” Geraldine reminds me. Needed are things, such as underwear, bras, shower shoes, and personal care kit. In addition to the care kits, items like soap, toothpaste, washcloths, lotion, and deodorant are always appreciated.

The Women’s Shower Program is so much more than just a place to shower.  It welcomes women into a safe place where they can experience hospitality, warmth, and compassion, all while boosting their self-esteem.  The staff and volunteers of Camillus House are honored to serve women right where they are, building trust, and inspiring hope that will ultimately help them break the cycle of homelessness.   

You can help this critical program by volunteering, collecting toiletry or clothing donations!  Learn how you can help by clicking here.

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