ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The familiar hum of the generator caught the ears of homeless folks in Williams Park. Chrissy Jenkins’ Showered & Empowered trailer had arrived.
For the first time, Jenkins parked her mobile shower trailer in the parking lot of First United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg. She has stationed herself all over downtown St. Pete – and beyond – for three years in her mission to serve the homeless by offering showers.
More than water, it’s offering dignity.
“It’s awesome,” she said.
That mission caught the attention of a group known for giving back to people affecting change in their communities. The 100 Women Who Care Pinellas County group describes itself as a “giving circle."
It meets quarterly and asks 100 women attendees to each bring $100 and listen to three 5-minute presentations from local non-profits.
After hearing those missions to improve the community, the group votes on which one it would like to collectively bless with their $10,000 donation money. Sometimes, the amount can even exceed that $10,000 mark due to additional donations.
This quarter, Jenkins caught their attention.
“It’s just very moving,” said Julie Webster, who, surrounded by others from 100 Women Who Care, presented Jenkins with a check for $12,100. “And she does it two or three days per week and has a full-time job!”
In addition to the $12,100 donation from 100 Women Who Care Pinellas County, Jenkins also received a $5,000 donation from Richard Shultz Family Foundation. That money gets her to around half of the required amount for a second shower trailer.
“What Chrissy is doing is just an amazing ministry,” said Rev. Margaret Roundtree, who joined First United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg as associate pastor a few months ago.
“For her to give these people 3,500 showers and feel empowered in that way, we as a church were more than happy to support her and to let her use our property here today. First time here and hopefully not the last.”
In the parking lot adjacent to the shower trailer, Aisha Towles smiled widely as she saw Jenkins receiving her check from Webster.
She started her own outreach called Gift’d Ministries, which aims to “restore the Body of Christ by serving the loss, oppressed, hopeless and wandering in the natural and by the Spirit of God”.
Towles tried to offer her own showers for the homeless out of a tent but wasn’t happy with the execution. She was pleased to find Jenkins and that two have become good friends.
“God has called all of us to go out into the world and to serve and it looks different. Her assignment is totally different from mine but we’re still being the hands and feet for Jesus,” said Towles, who started her outreach in 2018 online. “She serves like it’s the very first (shower). That’s what I’ve seen.”
It only took Jenkins one year to eclipse the 1,000-shower mark after debuting her first trailer in September 2018. She celebrated three years of showers this year and – despite the COVID-19 pandemic – has offered over 3,500 showers to the homeless in Tampa Bay.
She hopes adding a second trailer someday will only increase her reach
“It’s very cool to see the milestones,” said Jenkins, who works full-time as a nurse.