Our Story started in the Fall of 2017 after seeing a video of a Pastor in St. Louis, Missouri. Watching the video made Henry want to start a similar service in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. He began to develop a passion for the Homeless and Vulnerable Populations in Abbotsford. After receiving approval from his Church, the next step was to approach Mayor Henry Braun at the City of Abbotsford.
Upon getting heartfelt endorsement from the Mayor, Henry started having meetings with Dena Kae Beno, the Homeless Action Committee Co-Ordinator. She was a pleasure to work with and guided Henry through countless meetings with City staff including Police Officers, Chief of the Fire Department, City Works Department, and the Parks Department just to name a few.
Meanwhile the Fund-raising Campaign was in high gear. Churches, businesses and private individuals were approached. The Funds started coming in and within five months we were able to raise $35,000. This allowed us to order the shower trailer. During this time the Refresh Showers Committee was established. This committee began to make decisions on how best to use the shower trailer to serve the community. Our Mobile Showers trailer arrived three months later.
After the last details were worked out, it was time to get to work. Partnering with other orginizations is a key part of Refresh’s approach to serving the community. Recognizing that showers alone are only part of the bigger need, we needed to find ‘Host Sites’ that are already serving meals and clothing for the Homeless and Vulnerable Populations. Our first “Host Site” was the Bakerview Church, in Abbotsford, where on May 1st, 2019 we provided the first showers. The following day we were set up at the 2nd “Host Site”, MCC Thrift Store on Gladys Ave, in Abbotsford. We continued to serve at both of these locations each week, rain or shine, throughout the year.
It was a pleasure to partner with both of these Organizations. They provided the food and clothing and we served the guests with showers. This all worked well until March 2020, when Covid-19 affected the program and we were shut down for 6 weeks. We were able to resume operations on April 30, 2020 as our service was deemed to be an ‘Essential Service’.
During the time of our ‘shutdown’, the Bakerview Church gym had been converted to a Homeless Shelter operated by Outlook Society, leaving only MCC as our one location to serve at.
On October 28, 2020, we served our 1000th Guest. This Milestone was celebrated at the MCC.
In addition to serving at MCC, we were able to serve provide 16 guests with free showers at several ‘Cooling Centers’ during the extreme heat during the summer of 2021.
We are also pleased to report that during the Christmas Season we provided each guest with a “Blessing Bag’ containing 1 pair of gloves & socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, razor, soap, mouthwash and a Daily Bread Booklet. It was very well received.
In March 2021 we took our next step in becoming incorporated, putting us in a better position for future growth and support opportunities. We are in the process of becoming a registered charity with the CRA for donors interested in receiving a receipt for Income Tax Purposes. We are thankful for the support of King Road MB Church from the start, and are enjoying that continued partnership.
Beginning January 2022, we took another step forward in our desire to more effectively serve our community.
We were able to add an additional new ‘Host Site’, Archway Community Services in Abbotsford, BC. Archway Community Services partners with other services such as Abbotsford Food Bank, Abbotsford Restorative Justice, 5&2 Ministries, Drug War Survivors, Impact & Cedar Outreach.
This site, located at 34561 Delair Road is a new ‘drop-in / warming Center providing snacks, warm drinks & washroom facilities to the Homeless & Vulnerable Populations. This site also welcomes those who have nowhere to go when the Shelters are closed during the day. We serve at this site every Monday & Wednesday.
Unfortunately, this Host Site closed September 30, 2022. We are now in the process of looking for additional Host sites.
On August 10, 2023 the 3000th Shower was reached and almost the same number of underwear & socks were provided for our guests. This was the accumulation of showers given at Bakerview Church, MCC Thrift Store, The Cabin, Pauline Street (all in Abbotsford) 2 Sites in Maple Ridge, and Langley Vineyard Church in Langley, BC. We have been very busy restoring dignity to our Homeless & Vulnerable populations, ONE FREE SHOWER AT A TIME!
RMSM is a not-for-profit corporation. None of our many volunteers are paid including our Committee members.
So while we are extremely excited for this new opportunity of service, our financial needs have increased accordingly. Can we count on your help?
The Refresh Mobile Shower Ministry is a Society that has three Directors. We each come from different backgrounds, bringing with us our various skill sets & experiences which allows us to manage & oversee the different aspects of what is required to operate effectively.
We have a great group of enthusiastic volunteers that have a heart for the Homeless and Vulnerable Populations in our city and who enjoy serving them. They are trained to follow risk & safety procedures. Each week three of them come to serve. Everyone works together to setup the trailer at the Host Site in preparation for the arrival of our guests.
Once the Shower Trailer has been setup each member has their responsibilities, which includes signing up the guests who want showers & informing them when its their turn. Other duties involve timing the length of the showers. The last, but definitely not least is the task of cleaning. The shower stalls are cleaned according to proper health standards after each individual guest.
Giving back to the Community
We have been blessed to live in this beautiful city of Abbotsford. There are so many things we do every day without even thinking about them. There is a tendency to take these blessings for granted. We have a roof over our head, food on our table, and access to a shower. For many in our community, this is not their reality.
This Initiative has full support of the City of Abbotsford, Fraser Health, BC Housing, and numerous other agencies. Our desire is to give back to the community, to reach out to those who are in need. We strive to apply the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Homelessness is a reality in our community. Many people are staying at encampments or living in cars, thus making it extremely difficult for them to have have access to showers or a place get cleaned up. Let’s help them restore their dignity, one shower at a time.
Operation Manager: Henry Penner @ 604-557-3440
Administrator: Bill Keyes @ 778-808-3411
Treasurer: Anna Keyes @ 604-859-6316
Secretary: Janet Janz @ 604-226-1986