If it’s Saturday, you know Jason Winter of Johns Creek, Georgia will be hauling his mobile shower unit to an abandoned parking lot somewhere, but he’s bringing a lot more than just soap and water to the people experiencing homelessness in Atlanta.
Jason grew up in a comfortable suburban home where all of his needs were met. As an adult he realized just how fortunate he’d been, and he began to work with the homeless population on weekends as a way of giving back. He soon realized that community service was far more fulfilling for him than any material possession he could ever have.
“As a kid we had a lot of stuff. We were very fortunate,” Jason explained. “When I got older I realized that having all of these things — a house, a car, a bed, a job, it’s all great, but for me giving back, that’s my big fancy car. What makes me feel good is by helping the community.”
Jason started collecting hats, gloves, and blankets to hand out on weekends during a particularly chilly winter in Atlanta. As Spring arrived the weather got hotter, so he asked the homeless people he knew what they would choose to have if they could have anything in the world. Jason was shocked when all of them told him the one thing that would really help them was being able to take a shower.
The ability to get clean is something many of us take for granted, yet for people living on the streets it’s a luxury they seldom receive. Some people go weeks or even months without being able to wash their bodies and hair, making them feel dirty and “less than” others. Jason knew right away that he had to do something to help, and that’s how Hope Thru Soap was born.
Jason bought a mobile shower unit and began hauling it to abandoned parking lots every Saturday. He’d bring along piles of donated clothing so that people would have something clean to put on after showering.
Word soon got out, volunteers stepped up to help, and people started making sizable donations to the cause. With all of this help the non-profit expanded and now they offer free hot showers, haircuts, shaves, clothing, and food to the less fortunate.
Every Saturday Jason fills up the trucks 125 gallon water tank, which provides up to 27 showers. Volunteers collect, wash, fold, and sort towels and used clothing, and a volunteer mans the grill and cooks up hot dogs. An abandoned parking lot soon becomes a block party to which everyone is invited and no one is ever turned away. Music plays, people dance, and those who have fallen on hard times have an opportunity to forget their worries for a few hours.
Sometimes up to 300 people attend Jason’s Saturday Hope thru Soap parties, walking away with clean bodies, a bag of non-perishable food, new clothes, full bellies, and most importantly, dignity. For a brief moment they’ve been treated as human beings with value instead of something that society has thrown away.
“All people deserve to be treated with dignity. No matter who they are,” stated Hope thru Soap Executive Director Megan VandeBogert.
For Jason, the satisfaction of helping others is what sustains him and sends him home happy every Saturday. He says he looks forward to the weekends more than ever these days, forging relationships with others and doing his part to help his community. He may only be able to help others feel respected and valued for a few hours each week, but the love he leaves behind lasts forever.
Watch the video below to learn more about Hope thru Soap, and don’t forget to share.
Many people avoid eye contact and drive by. But when Jason drives up, they know the next few hours will be full of dignity and kindness. 🚌💙🧡💗❤️
Posted by Humankind Stories on Tuesday, June 18, 2019
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