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Earlier this month Connections for the Homeless restored access to showers and hygiene facilities as part of its service offerings to people who are homeless in Evanston and on the North Shore. Connections closed these services when it shut down its drop-in center in July of 2015 as a result of the State budget impasse.
Now, because of a Catalyst Grant of $6,000 from the Evanston Community Foundation and a successful gala last month, Connections offers showers from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays for up to 20 people each day.
“With cuts to our funding, we had to choose where to cut services last July,” said Larry Donoghue, Connections’ Board President.
“Instead of taking people out of our supportive housing program, we closed the services that have the shortest-term impact – access to showers, food, computers, and clothing for those living on the street. But don’t think that means the impact wasn’t significant – it’s been terrible,” Mr. Donoghue said.
Tito Vazquez, Connections’ Outreach Manager said, “The people who used to rely on us for access to showers have really suffered during this period. They’ve been using the public washrooms in town to clean up in the mornings, which just isn’t a dignified way to have to live. It’s really demoralizing to have no way to keep clean. It affects your ability to interact with people, to get a job, and to form relationships that can help you move forward.”
The community has rallied around Connections to address the issue, said Sue Loellbach, Connections’ Director of Development. “Instead of complaining about their homeless patrons not having showers, Library representatives spoke up and helped bring their plight to the attention of people who could make a difference.”
Betty Bogg, Executive Director of Connections, said, “Connections is very happy to be restoring these services. However, we want to do much more for homeless people than help them get cleaned up. The success of our gala will help us to restore other lost services and do even more.”