Snohomish County Career Fair - September 10
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Mobile shower offers fresh start

Clearview couple gives homeless people a comfort many take for granted

  • Ron Berry (middle) and his daughter, Zoey, borrow a towel from Frank Fargo (left) and his wife Louise. The Fargos operate a mobile shower from a trail...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Ron Berry (middle) and his daughter, Zoey, borrow a towel from Frank Fargo (left) and his wife Louise. The Fargos operate a mobile shower from a trailer on Wednesday evenings outside of the First Presbyterian Church in Everett. They also give away new sets of undergarments to folks who use the shower or come by and ask.

  • Louise Fargo holds one of the tickets that she and her husband, Frank, give out as placeholders for people who want to take a shower in the mobile sho...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Louise Fargo holds one of the tickets that she and her husband, Frank, give out as placeholders for people who want to take a shower in the mobile shower they set up on Wednesday evenings outside of the First Presbyterian Church in Everett. The Fargos operate their trailer twice a week at two different locations, and also give away new sets of undergarments to people who use the shower or come by and ask.

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By Katya Yefimova
Herald Writer
Published:
  • Ron Berry (middle) and his daughter, Zoey, borrow a towel from Frank Fargo (left) and his wife Louise. The Fargos operate a mobile shower from a trail...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Ron Berry (middle) and his daughter, Zoey, borrow a towel from Frank Fargo (left) and his wife Louise. The Fargos operate a mobile shower from a trailer on Wednesday evenings outside of the First Presbyterian Church in Everett. They also give away new sets of undergarments to folks who use the shower or come by and ask.

  • Louise Fargo holds one of the tickets that she and her husband, Frank, give out as placeholders for people who want to take a shower in the mobile sho...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Louise Fargo holds one of the tickets that she and her husband, Frank, give out as placeholders for people who want to take a shower in the mobile shower they set up on Wednesday evenings outside of the First Presbyterian Church in Everett. The Fargos operate their trailer twice a week at two different locations, and also give away new sets of undergarments to people who use the shower or come by and ask.

EVERETT — Frank Fargo leans against a wall at First Presbyterian Church of Everett, holding a large sign that reads, “Shower to the People.”
The 57-year-old carpenter hands out laminated tickets to some of the men and women attending the church's free community dinner on this weekday evening.
Those with tickets go outside the church where a beige fifth-wheel trailer is parked in the alley.
Louise Fargo, Frank's wife, leafs through a magazine while classical music plays in the background. Towels are neatly stacked behind her. Toiletries peek out of plastic containers on the floor: toothbrushes, soap, deodorant and so on. New underwear, socks and clean, used T-shirts are available, too.
The Clearview couple started Shower to the People more than two years ago when they decided to provide homeless people an important comfort many people take for granted.
“It just kind of hit me that some people have nowhere to take a shower,” Frank Fargo said. “And they are so appreciative. They think it's a great idea.”
For some of the people passing through, that shower is the only one they get that week. The fresh smells of soap and shampoo fill the trailer and the alley behind the church. A white curtain hides the part of the trailer where people can remove their clothes. Another curtain then leads into a small shower.
People are asked to limit their showers to five or eight minutes, but the Fargos don't watch the clock closely. The trailer gets instant hot water, and more can be added on site, so they never run out, Louise Fargo said.
The Fargos take the trailer to First Presbyterian Church in Everett on Wednesday nights and to Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood on Saturday mornings.
As many as 20 people take advantage of the shower each time. More usually use the shower at the end of a month, when their money may be running out, Frank Fargo said.
“They may be treating themselves to a motel at the beginning of the month, but by the end, they are stretched pretty thin,” he said.
About 900 people have used the shower since the Fargos started their unusual ministry.
Meaghan Longley, 28, came to Dinner at the Bell for the first time earlier this month. Currently not working at a restaurant job, Longley found herself without a home. The trailer provided a small but important comfort.
“That felt really good. I needed a shower sooo badly,” she said, sporting a white T-shirt she got from the Fargos. Her brown hair, still wet, was pulled into a tight bun.
Frank Fargo got the idea after reading a book, called Under the Overpass, about a young man who was looking for something to do with his life when God told him to become homeless for several months. The man in the book describes going for weeks without a shower. Frank Fargo, who has met homeless people through his church, was touched.
He bought a trailer and outfitted it with a bigger shower, extra water tanks and the hot-water system.
The Fargos pay most of the expenses themselves, but they also get donations from the community. Frank Fargo hardly ever leaves his church, Cascade View Presbyterian, without a bag of donations for his shower.
The trailer has its regulars, and the Fargos worry when they don't show up.
The couple are well-known among church volunteers. The simple service they provide is giving people their confidence back, said First Presbyterian church member Merle Kirkley, who was helping clean up after the community meal.
“For someone who may be living in his car and hasn't had a shower in a week, this will make him feel better about himself,” Kirkley said.
Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452; kyefimova@heraldnet.com.

How you can help
Donations of toiletries and new socks and underwear can be dropped off at Cascade View Presbyterian Church, 1030 E. Casino Road, Everett.
Story tags » EverettLynnwoodCharityHomelessnessVolunteer

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