A Casa Grande nonprofit is offering free showers in a trailer parked at a church one day a week to people who are homeless, with hopes of expanding to other services for them.
Melanie Velcko said The Rest Stop’s showers are available from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Saturdays at the Fountain of Living Waters Church, 518 E. Second St. The trailer has two stalls; one is ADA-accessible.
She is able to accommodate eight showers per day, and users are required to sign up ahead of time at the Seeds of Hope hot lunch program, which is held at the same church. The showers are disinfected after each use, which limits the number of showers that can be offered each Saturday.
“So far the response has been good. It’s mostly the same people that show up every week,” she said. The trailer is towed away after each use.
Velcko and her husband Chris first got involved in aiding the community’s homeless population by handing out bottles of water to people in Peart Park and the downtown area.
“We started The Rest Stop because we noticed so many homeless have no place to go in the heat to cool off, shower or do laundry. That’s why the goal is a building. They can stop in and get water, snack bags, shower and cool off and then head back out,” she said.
The group has obtained two grants from nearby tribes: one from the Ak-Chin Indian Community is funding the shower trailer, and another from the Gila River Indian Community is for leasing a building for two years. A spot in an appropriate location is still being sought.
The shower trailer will be moved to the building if one is rented, so the service can be made available more often. The building also will provide a place where people can escape the heat, get water and do laundry before heading back out.
“That’s why it is called The Rest Stop. Just stop in to get basic needs met,” Velcko said.
The Rest Stop won approval for a two-year temporary use permit for the showers at the church location on Aug. 13 from the City of Casa Grande Board of Adjustment, after another application to place it in front of the former high school auditorium near City Hall was rejected by the board in June.
Velcko said The Rest Stop has been receiving more donations of clothing, hygiene supplies, face masks and snacks since residents started learning about the shower trailer.
“I am grateful for all the support we have received from CAHRA (Community Action Human Resources Agency), Seeds of Hope, The Fountain of Living Waters Church, New Life Baptist Church, the City of Casa Grande and the community,” she said.
Anyone who wants to donate money or supplies to The Rest Stop can call Velcko at 520-431-8726