After spending a lot of time with a homeless person who became my friend, I asked, "Benny, how long has it been since you've had a shower?" His response, "About a year, Miss Teresa."
When I left Benny that day, my mind was racing. Walking up the steps to our house, the idea hit me of the need for A MOBILE SHOWER unit! So the process started right away.
I went back few days later to visit Benny and told him my idea. He was SO HAPPY. He said, "More than food, I need a shower."
Shower Power is more than a shower. We want to bring hospitality to the streets by delivering mobile hygiene services to people experiencing homelessness. It's about taking time to show people that you care, and restoring dignity by providing resources needed for self-care.
The homeless face many challenges, one being the difficulty in getting access to a shower. Even if they can get to a shelter, the shelter may not have a shower available.
Teresa Renkenberger - Shower Power Founder
Teresa Renkenberger is the founder of Shower Power. Mary Ann Kirby is the director of operations. Together they have created a safe place for the area's homeless and marginally sheltered to come and take a shower, be fed, clothed, and be loved.
Every Friday, since late November of 2019, Shower Power offers a free shower to anyone who needs it in downtown Jackson. A shower truck is located at 836 South Commerce Street. It’s been retrofitted with two separate shower units, each with their own soap and shampoo dispensers, a mirror, a sink, and changing area. Water is fed through a regular garden hose and a standard water heater to provide for each shower.
Since then, Shower Power has given well over 3,500 showers to people in need and fed, fellowshipped, and ministered to as many as a few hundred unique visitors. It’s estimated that the homeless population in Jackson numbers somewhere between 800 and 1,000. Food and basic necessities, clothing items, and hygiene items, are provided as well.
In October of 2020, Project Hope, as an extension of Shower Power, was born. Project Hope serves to identify which of the unsheltered Shower Power visitors would be good candidates for low-income housing—and then helps them get there. They currently have eleven people in the program. For $9,000 per year, provided by corporate and individual sponsorships, housing and groceries are secured. True life-change comes with not having to sleep on the street.
Teresa and Mary Ann have been friends for over 20 years, and both share a passion for the overlooked and underserved.