Hope Center’s New Shower Program Provides Regular Access to Showers to Those In Need Near the Milwaukee Area

Beacon of Hope

For 50 years the Hope Center Inc. has been serving those living in or near poverty in Waukesha County. The center has become known for its various programs for those in need to get essential resources such as the clothing shop, outreach meals, the day center, financial assistance, and Green Power Garden.

The center mainly runs off of the ambition of over 2,000 volunteers and donations from the community to be able to provide the services available to the community.

Hope Center moved into a newly renovated building in January of 2024, giving them extra space to utilize in new ways to better serve and build up the Waukesha community. 

Squeaky Clean

In May 2024, the center launched its new shower program that allows participants to sign up for a 30-minute slot to shower and are provided everything they need to refresh themselves.

For Executive Director Ralph Zick, this program is a 15-year-old vision that came true to be able to help the community in this way.

“That was kind of the dream a few years ago, to say let’s see if we ever have the opportunity to put showers in so they have a place to go,” said Zick. “We started the program two and a half weeks ago and it was just a marvelous thing for them…it has been absolutely well-received.”

Each participant gets access to a 30-minute shower time and supplies such as shampoo, body wash, and a towel. (Picture by Ralph Zick)
Each participant gets access to a 30-minute shower time and supplies such as shampoo, body wash, and a towel. (Picture by Ralph Zick)

The schedule fills up on a first-come-first-serve basis on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and within the first few weeks, the center has welcomed around 10-12 people per day.

“The important part here is that for men there was potential availability to shower at the Salvation Army, off and on, during certain times once a week,” said Zick. “For women, there is no place in Waukesha for women to shower, they can’t get into the Salvation Army cause it’s for men.”

The shower program can be accessed by anyone living in or near poverty, regardless of gender.

New Sense of Self

Zick said the participants have already experienced an increased sense of self, dignity, and confidence necessary for them to get on track to a healthier and stable life.

“They’ll tell you it means the whole world,” said Zick, “I think there’s a self-satisfaction that you’re cleaned up, it helps their ID or ego, that they are now refreshed. A clean body makes a clean mind.”

Zick shared stories of participants who have come to utilize the shower program and immediately began scheduling meetings necessary to find employment or get clothes after cleaning up to go to a job interview.

For Zick and the rest of the Hope Center, they hope this is only the start of new additions of services to be offered to the community.

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