Serving homeless people with hope, one shower at a time

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"Every homeless person has a story," says Jason Winter, right, founder of Hope Thru Soap.

Every weekend, Jason Winter hooks his shiny aluminum 12-foot long trailer to the back of his SUV and heads to metro Atlanta, where he provides homeless people with a sanitary and private space to bathe. The unit is furnished with a shower, a toilet, hot water, heat and air conditioning but, more importantly, it comes equipped with hope.

Throughout his life, the 41-year-old account manager has come across men and women in poverty-stricken areas covered in grime, lacking basic human needs like clean water and clothing.

“If I saw a homeless person in the street, I would always try to have some kind of interaction with them,” he said. “No one asks to be homeless so, if I could help them in any way, I did.”

In 2016, Winter’s fervor to help turned into a free-service program called ‘Hope Thru Soap.’

It offers an alternative to homeless shelters’ jam-packed lavatories.

His nonprofit, with a healthy social media following, has a simple mission: to offer “showers and love to those in need.”

One ‘Hope Thru Soap’ user, Nathan, lost his home recently and found the mobile unit while walking through a park.

He hadn’t showered in three days.

“I am really feeling refreshed, and I thank God for [Jason] for bringing this shower to us,” he said in a Facebook post. “So much dirt came off of me.”

“Something as small as a shower gives them hope,” Winter said. “When you’re clean, you’re less likely to want to sleep under a bridge. A shower might make them want to get out and find work.”

Free baths require a water supply and toiletries.

Until now, Winter has scraped funds out of his own pocket to pay for it.

He is trying to raise $10,000 for supplies and a fire hydrant meter, which would allow him unlimited water from any hydrant in the city.

“It’s a great feeling to help these people, but I don’t do it for myself,” Winter said. “I do it for the folks that can’t speak for themselves and don’t really have hope left. We bring them hope.”