It’s been almost three months since Anthony returned to Los Angeles. His doctor had advised him to move to a drier climate area due to a nasal health condition, and L.A. seemed like the right choice, as Anthony had lived here once before and still had friends in town. So several weeks ago, Anthony packed up, left his hometown in New Jersey, and returned to California.
Upon arrival, Anthony was shocked at how much L.A. had changed since he left six years earlier. Housing had become so expensive. And the hostel-style living he had enjoyed in the past wasn’t available because of the strict Covid protocols in place all over the city.
He turned to friends, but unfortunately they too had been forced to leave town or downsize their own living situations. That left Anthony with no choice but to begin navigating the streets to find safe shelter and food.
Anthony found his way to the Hope Center, which he had been familiar with from his past time in the area, and was introduced to the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission’s shower trailer in the center’s adjoining parking lot. “The first morning I was walking to get breakfast at the Hope Center, I was surprised and quite honestly overwhelmed to find the blessing of the shower trailer,” he said. “And there was such a kind staff who warmly invited me over and took such good care of me.”
Hayden Roush, Renewed Hope’s assistant program manager, said Anthony often expresses how grateful he is. “Anthony has come on a daily basis to the showers and even begun to show up early on some occasions to help the staff and volunteers set up,” Hayden said.
Anthony has recently found a full-time job in the service industry, but can’t yet afford rent. He’s saving up for a place of his own. In the meantime, his manager has allowed him to sleep at night in a back store room of his place of employment.
The Mission operates two shower programs, and the one Anthony frequents in East Hollywood has been running every weekday morning since February 2021. It’s run in conjunction with the Hope Center, a local outreach organization providing two meals a day to the community. This connection gives greater access and support for our unhoused neighbors to receive a hot meal and hot shower all in one location.
Around 25 clients come each morning to the showers and are provided a hot shower, hygiene products, clean towel and occasional socks and underwear when we have the supplies. While at the showers, we spend time in ministering to each of the clients through prayer and resource navigation in order to provide as much help to everyone as we can during their time with us at the showers.
“These showers are a safe place, not like the other places I visited,” Anthony said. He praised the kindness of those volunteering. “Even though each day I stumble in feeling like death, I leave filled with hope. I leave feeling purposeful because of you all and a hot shower.”