North Olmsted High School student Riley Glazer and her father are working with a Cleveland shelter to give homeless people a fresh start.
The two are taking a mobile shower bus to St. Herman’s House of Hospitality on Franklin Boulevard and giving homeless people a chance to get a hot shower, fresh clothes and a haircut with Project Fresh Start. They began doing this after Riley saw a similar shower van helping people in Tennessee earlier this year while on a mission trip with North Olmsted Evangelical Friends Church.
It was Riley’s third mission for the church, but it's something she plans to continue doing, particularly with what happened on this one.
“It was one of those missions where you see and do different things to help people in the mission area over several days,” said Riley, 17, who will be a senior next year. “I’m glad to do all of it, but when I saw the shower truck I thought it was a great idea because I haven’t seen anything like that up here (in the Cleveland area).”
After she and her father, Scott, discussed the mission’s benefits, he purchased a 2006 bus and equipped it with showers and cleaning facilities. Donations helped fund the project, which began in April.
“I’ve thought about doing a handyman’s ministry myself and I’ll do other projects to help people out,” Glazer said. “This was just a great idea on Riley’s part to do something which fills a need.”
The shower van has gone to the shelter the past five Fridays.
“We’ve had about eight to 10 people come each time, but it's gotten bigger the last time or two,” Riley said. “We take being able to get a shower and clean up for granted, but a lot of these people can’t get one as easily as you or I do.”
The reactions are strong.
“We’re getting a lot of big smiles and thank you from people for what we’re doing,” Riley said. “A lot of those people really don’t have other resources, so we’re giving them something they need.”
Volunteers also make sure the bus and shower areas stay clean to deal with the coronavirus and other health concerns.
Paul Finley, director for St. Herman’s, said the timing of the project was great.
“This gives the people a chance to clean up outside the shelter area while still getting help from the shelter as well,” Finley said. “We’ve had to be careful at the facility because of the virus, so getting good additional help like this is even more beneficial right now.”
Both the shelter and Project Fresh Start try to provide donated clothes for homeless people.
“”People always feel good after a shower and then putting on some clothes, and the people she’s helping are no exception to this,” Finley said.
Riley said she can imagine the project being expanded.
“I’d like to take it to other locations or shelters in the Cleveland and Akron area in the future,” she said. “We’d need to make sure we had enough resources and people to be able to do that.”
Principal Zach Weagley praised Riley’s efforts.
“She is an amazing student and has stood out to me as an individual that puts others first even before this story,” Weagley said. “Riley is a model for our other students and contributes greatly to the culture we are trying to promote at NOHS.”
Riley plans to continue her efforts to help others when she goes to college.
“I also want to help children, so I’ll focus a lot of my studies on that, “ she said. “But I also want to make sure this work stays strong.”
More information on Project Fresh Start can be found on Facebook.
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