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Van provides showers and laundry service for the homeless

 Posted: 5:40 PM May 01, 2014

Homeless people and others in need can now get showers and do laundry at spots around Ashland, thanks to an anonymous donors who paid $12,500 for a retired fire support-service van.

The 27-foot van started service today.

"It's my first shower in two-and-a-half months and it feels wonderful," said Steve Boling, a homeless man who tends a vegetable garden and was waiting for laundry to dry. "It felt like my first-ever shower. You can't do this in the creek."

The big white shower van will be kept at Ashland Emergency Food Bank on Clover Lane, where it will be open Thursday afternoons. It will spend from 1 to 5 Tuesday afternoons at First United Methodist Church of Ashland, 175 N. Main St. The parking lot at Laurel Street and North Main also hosts La Clinica and Uncle Food's Diner on Tuesdays.

It is administered by Ashland Community Resource Center, next door to the food bank, in partnership with ACCESS, the Community Action Agency for Jackson County and Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland.

The van offers laundry and shower soap, hot water, towels and washclothes and spraying of stalls with disinfectants that kill viruses after each shower, ACRC manager Leigh Madsen said

It has two showers, a changing room and an on-demand water heater. It hooks into city water and wastewater goes into the sewer.

"All they need to do is bring their dirty clothes and bodies and we do the rest," Madsen said.

ACRC plans to expand service to the Grove on East Main Street and the Ashland Recycling Center on Water Street in the near future, Madsen said, thus realizing a main goal of ACRC since its formation in February.

— John Darling

Read more in Friday's Mail Tribune.

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