A majority of the homeless people sleeping in a graveyard near St. Anne’s Church in Parksville have been moved to hotel rooms but some still prefer to stay outdoors.
This raises the issue of hygiene as a concern, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Church of the Ascension in Parksville has decided to help out by opening its church showers to the homeless.
“Why not let them use it?” said Ascension pastor Michael Favero. “There’s no access for the homeless people to take showers right now because all the rec centres are closed, the showers down at the park are closed. Nothing is open. Can you imagine if someone hasn’t had a shower for any length of time? That’s a basic need.”
Those wishing to clean up and refresh themselves are now able to use the church showers every Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Favero said they already have towels that the church purchased when it was designated as one of the potential shelters available in the area during the winter.
“But that did not happen as people felt more comfortable staying at St. Anne’s,” said Favero. “So we still have the towels, the small little shampoos and soaps that people donated.”
The church also received donations of new underwear for men and women, socks and some T-shirts that are handed out to those who come to use the showers.
Favero said that they began the initiative just more than a week ago and had several people come in. Once the word gets out that showers are available at the church, Favero said, he expects more homeless people will come. A decision to extend shower hours would depend on the numbers of people.
The church showers are sanitized after usage, said Favero.