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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Irving Street Library helps community clean bodies and clothes

Irving Street Library helps community clean bodies and clothes

“That felt so good!” This was the happy sentiment from one of the users of the shower and laundry trucks that are now visiting Irving Street library. Since the end of March, a shower truck has shown up every Monday morning and a laundry truck has offered its services the first Monday of every month to those who need them.

“I saw a laundry truck outside the Denver Public Library and thought that service would be great to have at Irving Street Library,” said Library Associate Patty Gendill . “I found Living Well Showers and they came to see if the location would work for their truck.”

In addition to coordinating the logistics for both the shower and laundry trucks, Gendill ran the idea by city staff.

“[Library Services Coordinator] Kira Kloser, [Library Services Manager] JR Clanton and [Parks, Recreation and Libraries Director] Jason Genck were all very supportive and encouraging,” said Gendill. “We all want the library to be an open and inviting atmosphere.”

The Living Well Showers shower truck is a service provided by Bethlehem Lutheran Church and is available every Monday from 9 a.m. to noon. The truck attaches to the library’s water and power connections and has its own wastewater tank. The truck has RV-style plumbing, Moen sink and shower appliances, and propane tanks to heat the water. The truck includes three regular and one ADA-accessible shower stalls.

The shower truck is staffed exclusively by volunteers. As needed, they hand out travel-size toiletries, disposable razors, t-shirts, socks and undergarments. After a user finishes using the shower, the volunteers clean all surfaces so the stall is ready for the next person.

“We’ve helped seven people already and it’s only been open an hour!” said volunteer and Westminster Inclusivity Board Vice Chair Beverly Bishop.

The Bayaud Enterprises laundry truck is available for drop offs from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. during its monthly visit. Users can drop off a maximum of two ten pound bags of dirty clothes and bedding. Bob, the laundry truck volunteer, has the process down pat as he logs the user’s name and bag weight before putting the dirty laundry in the washer. It costs approximately $400 per day to operate the laundry truck.

“We’ve had five loads of laundry already today and it’s only 9:45 a.m.” said Bob. “This location is a beautiful spot and one of the few we go to in the north part of the metro area.”

The location for the trucks has been beneficial for the homeless community, not only because it’s in the north part of town, but because there is easily enough space for both trucks.

“As far as I know, this is the first time a location has had both a shower and laundry truck,” said Gendill. “We’ve seen a difference as the users come into the library in a good mood and very thankful.”

The homeless users of the trucks’ services now have the confidence to not only use the library’s job search services, but also go to job interviews.

“One of our patrons who has used the trucks’ services now has a construction job, so we’re so happy with the part this service has played in helping him out,” said Gendill.

Overall, the community has been very supportive of these services that the Parks, Recreation and Libraries (PR&L) Department are providing to library patrons who are homeless. Gendill says that the atmosphere in Irving Street Library has improved tremendously since the shower and laundry trucks have been available.

“We do this for the whole community and word is spreading,” said Gendill. “This fits right in with the city’s values and our mission in PR&L.”

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