Helping the homeless: Couple creates mobile shower unit, will begin operating in June

Jason Jaques and Nancy Dyson stand next to their mobile shower van.
Jason Jaques and Nancy Dyson stand next to their mobile shower van they will operate as part of their nonprofit, Neighbors to Friends, during an interview Saturday, May 18, at their home in Sauk Rapids.
Dave Schwarz | St. Cloud Times

By Clairissa Baker St. Cloud Times

After learning about a lack of places for homeless people to shower, a Sauk Rapids couple will begin running a mobile shower unit in June.

Nancy Dyson and Jason Jaques first brainstormed locations where homeless people could access showers after someone asked if they knew of places to go.

"We just looked at each other like, 'I don't (know),'" Dyson said. "It was heartbreaking."

The pair started a "quest" to find options in the area, but they found limited places would work, Jaques said.

"We can do better than that," Dyson said. "We have to do better than that."

Jaques and Dyson began working on the idea of a self-contained unit, built in a small passenger van, a couple years ago.

Known as Shower the People, it will be operated under the couple's nonprofit, Neighbors to Friends. The van will be ready for its first showers June 4 at Kipp's Laundry starting about 10 a.m., according to Jaques.

Jaques and Dyson plan to take the truck to people who need it, providing access to a shower as well as meals and time to hang out.

It's one way they can help give people "a little slice of their dignity back," Dyson said.

Jaques and Dyson began working to help people who are homeless in the St. Cloud area about five and a half years ago, according to Dyson.

They organized a local effort to provide laundry services to those in need and recently turned their efforts into their nonprofit, Neighbors to Friends.

A plumber is coming Wednesday, Jaques said, to pick up the water heater and finish the water lines.

It will take about another week of cosmetic work to finish the van, according to Jaques, which contains one shower and a 105-gallon freshwater tank.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.