Acts of Kindness Help Arlington Life Shelter
By Traci Peterson
Posted on April 15, 2020, April 15, 2020

shower trailer

A new temporary shower facility is helping Arlington Life Shelter serve about 40 percent more clients than earlier in the month and it all came together because of a few acts of kindness.

The Arlington Life Shelter, which has served homeless individuals and families in Arlington since 1987, is currently in the process of building a new two-story, 12,000 square-foot facility at its 325 W. Division St location. To make way for construction, shelter capacity was scaled back in January from about 80 residents to 25 residents and operations were moved to an area church, says Jim Reeder, interim executive director of the nonprofit. 

Then, a few weeks ago, in response to the social distancing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, shelter officials decided to move again to the North Davis Church of Christ, 1608 N. Davis Drive. At North Davis, the Life Shelter could both accommodate more residents - about 50 - and allow residents to shelter-in-place during the day. It soon became apparent that the Life Shelter would need to increase capacity even more to meet a rising demand for services.

“There was physical space available (at the church) but we didn’t have enough showering facilities to handle that many more,” Reeder says. “We couldn’t bring in more because then we wouldn’t have enough showers.”

In just a matter of days, The American Dream City came together to make the addition of the showers possible. Mindy Cochran, executive director of the Arlington Housing Authority, helped make the connections between those who could help and the Life Shelter.

“There have been a whole bunch of pieces to this puzzle that have fallen into place,” she says. One of her first contacts was Tillie Burgin, executive director of Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex. Tillie Burgin put Cochran in touch with Clark Burgin at Mission Arlington, who had access to a disaster relief shower trailer used by Texas Baptist Men, or TBM. After a request from Mission Arlington to the trailer owner, it is on loan to the Life Shelter as long as it is needed, Clark Burgin says.

Next, the Life Shelter and the church needed to make sure the site had the capacity to provide electrical power to operate lights and a water heater in the trailer, which also has a washer and dryer for the shelter to use. Jon Kendall, a master electrician from the Arlington Water Utilities treatment maintenance team, stepped up to offer his expertise on the type of electrical connection needed. The department also arranged for a contractor to provide the outdoor wiring modifications before the shower trailer was delivered Monday.

Reeder estimates about 20 more Life Shelter residents can now be added at the church. He wasn’t surprised that the need was fulfilled so quickly.

“We have been fortunate at the shelter,” he says. “People in the community, the faith community and businesses always come forward, whether it’s jars of peanut butter and paper towels or showers.”

The mission of the Arlington Life Shelter promotes self-sufficiency by providing shelter, employment programs and transitional services for North Texans impacted by homelessness. Core service areas include basic food, shelter, comprehensive case management, employment services, education and children’s services. To support the shelter, visit its website arlingtonlifeshelter.org.

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