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SLO non-profit offers hope to homeless with free showers, food, and clothing

Posted at 8:21 AM, Dec 24, 2019

A hot shower and warm meal are two luxuries homeless people are often unable to enjoy but a San Luis Obispo non-profit is making sure the city's less fortunate can find hope.

More than 16 volunteers regularly show up to help Hope's Village on Saturdays in a church parking lot on Los Osos Valley Road, where shower and meal stations are set up for homeless people to use.

"They come here, they're dirty, they have no hope, they're hungry," Hope's Village Founder Becky Jorgeson said. "Then they come out of that shower with their wet hair and they just have a whole new outlook on life."

Hope's Village offers a shower, warm meal, and change of clothes to people who fall outside the fray.

Charles Pell, who stopped by for a bite to eat, is one of nearly 1,500 people in San Luis Obispo County identified as homeless.

Pell said he lives on the streets.

"I don't like it, but I've had to learn to live with it," Pell said.

Though they all gather at this outpost together with a similar need, each person's story is different.

"Just ran in to a streak of bad luck and down I went," Jason Coleman, who was homeless for many years, said. "But with Hope's Village's help, I'm coming back up."

It's a hand up that can change not only appearances but attitudes.

"You kind of respect that these guys give their time for what, like 8 hours a day for people," John Sullivan, who is homeless, said.

Hope's Village, which began operating about 18 months ago, has provided over 3,000 free showers with the help of United Church of Christ.

"We've been here for two years with our showers," Jorgeson said. "(The church) don't charge a dime, they give us all the water and electricity we need."

It's a gift that keeps giving. For many volunteers, like Coleman, Hope's Village isn't just a place to receive but to give back.

"I'm behind it 100 percent," Coleman said.

Coleman helps fold laundry and serve meals to other participants.

"It's like family here," Coleman said.

"They're just like you and me," Jorgeson said. "Sure, some of them have mental challenges but it's hard to get help on the streets."

Jorgeson knows the showers, the food, and the clothing are only a band-aid on a much bigger wound, but she hopes this show of compassion inspires change and healing.

The program, which also helps connect veterans with donated RVs, is completely donation based. You can learn more by visiting the Hope's Village website.