For the last several years, only one shower and laundry unit were accessible to people sleeping outside in the Cedar Rapids metro area. We are proud that these have been and continue to be, at our Emergency Shelter. However, with this limited capacity, clients need to schedule appointments in advance, which can be an added barrier to people living in the fight-or-flight mode that often accompanies homelessness. Having limited, or non-existent, access to shower and laundry services can cause clients to struggle with acquiring and maintaining housing and employment. Why? Personal hygiene impacts not only health and interpersonal connections but also boosts self-confidence. After a hot shower and laundry straight out of the dryer, clients are empowered to go about the rest of their day refreshed and energized.
Since November of 2022, our shower and laundry facilities have quadrupled! How? With the generous support of Saint Pius X Catholic Church, we launched a Day Center program at Willis Dady Works: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 am until noon. Clients can access these facilities during the open hours on a drop-in basis, free of charge. These bathrooms create an oasis for clients to not only take a shower but have the privacy of shutting a door and having a moment to themselves. With the relaxing tumbling of laundry in the background, this program provides a safe place for those experiencing homelessness to come inside and away from the elements. In addition to having a space to unwind with a cup of coffee, they also have the opportunity to connect with our outreach case managers and partner agencies to receive life-saving services.
The Day Center meets a basic need for a highly vulnerable and misunderstood population. Individuals experiencing homelessness often feel like “others” out in the community. The day center provides a safe and calming place for clients where dignity and respect are upheld. We prioritize providing the human aspect of life to those who enter through our doors while giving them the ability to receive services. With the funding and partnership of Saint Pius X, we have created a positive impact on the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness in the Cedar Rapids metropolitan area.
In collaboration with our sponsor, Saint Pius X Catholic Church, we were able to dedicate the Day Center in memory of Hector Perez. While a client of Willis Dady Homeless Services programs, Hector dedicated his time to giving back to people who were experiencing homelessness. He worked as a Park Ambassador in Green Square Park and he volunteered at the Overflow Shelter in the winter months. He wanted everyone to feel empowered regardless of their housing situation; Hector's Place Day Center achieves that goal. He brought hope to many of our clients and made a lasting impression on our organization. On July 24th, we held a celebration at the Day Center on Hector's birthday to honor his legacy with a dedication and resource fair for current clients. Thank you to our community partners for showing up to celebrate and provide services on-site.