ShowerUp Serves Chicago’s Unhoused Community with Compassion, Dignity, Hope and Showers

“I feel human again.” ShowerUp Chicago hears those words often. 

For those who are experiencing homelessness, feeling human is not taken for granted. Spending days, weeks and sometimes months without being able to get something as basic and essential as a shower can have a physical, mental, emotional and even a spiritual impact. 

ShowerUp provides mobile showers and personal care for those who are experiencing homelessness and anyone in need. The mobile shower unit is a trailer with three individual shower suites. Each one features LED lighting, air conditioning, heat, a shower, sink, unlimited hot water, and a locking door for privacy, safety and comfort.

The purpose of ShowerUp goes beyond providing a clean, hot shower. It’s all about building relationships with the unhoused brothers and sisters who are served, so that they can know that they are not alone. There is a community that cares for, supports and loves them. When these guests are personally handed a towel, toiletry kit, socks and anything else they might need, there’s an opportunity to engage through something as basic as a smile. It’s a reminder that they are seen and that they matter — that they are human. 

Because of ShowerUp’s commitment to building relationships, Chicagoans like Tommy have been able to move away from homelessness. Tommy relied on ShowerUp to get a shower, hygiene and supplies while he stayed at a makeshift camp near Humboldt Park. The more he spent time with the ShowerUp staff and volunteers who came to his camp each week, the more he opened up about his need for sobriety. Working with other community outreach programs, the ShowerUp team was able to help Tommy find an addiction recovery program. Today, he is clean and sober. He also has moved into housing and has reconnected with his family. It all started with a shower.

Launched in 2016 in Nashville, ShowerUp expanded to Chicago in 2021. The mobile shower unit is out six days a week serving various locations around the city. In the first year of operations, over 1,000 showers were provided. Further, more than 200 volunteers aided ShowerUp, and a dozen-plus businesses, groups and nonprofits — including The Night Ministry, Vituity Cares, Chicago Street Medicine, Chi-Care, William Blair Company,NAMI and others — worked together to “Shower Grace, Hope and Love” on Chicago neighbors who are most in need. ShowerUp is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that is supported through donations fro individuals, families, businesses and church communities. To find out more, visit ShowerUp.org.


More from Better: