PATERSON, NJ – In the face of COVID-related financial troubles, a group of Paterson women continues to fight for individuals facing homelessness by providing access to clean showers and other resources.
On May 31, Muture Sisters Organization (MSO), a Paterson-based, women-run nonprofit dedicated to serving the city’s homeless community, will launch their fourth Annual Daily Shower Event. This week-long program will provide hot showers, a healthy meal, and a prayer to people experiencing homelessness in the city. Participants will also receive support services through a needs assessment completed by an MSO staff member to help them navigate a better living environment and treatment, if they desire.
Sharonda Roberts, executive director and founder of MSO, explains that bathing is something most people take for granted, yet can be an all-day affair for people experiencing homelessness. This makes the MSO shower initiative vital to the organization’s mission, which is to allow the people they serve to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually while building their self-esteem, according to their website.
“Muture Sisters believes everyone has the right to feel fresh and clean which would build their self-worth,” says Roberts. “A shower is the first step to reigniting a feeling of dignity.”
Over the past three years, MSO has served 507 individuals experiencing homelessness through their shower event. Not only have these women promoted hygiene and improved public health, but they have also provided HIV testing, mental health and substance abuse referrals, information about open beds in homeless shelters, haircuts, clothing, religious services, and nutritious meals to those in need.
Despite the team’s efforts, Roberts highlights that her staff must be realistic and not force individuals experiencing homelessness into any of these services.
“We do understand that the change will not come until they are ready. However, MSO would like to be a part of the solution in helping them move closer to that decision. Everyone that walks through that gate to receive services are treated with the utmost dignity and respect,” she explains.
Outside of the week-long shower initiative, MSO also distributes care packages, provides holiday dinners, coordinates toy donations, and collaborates with other community organizations. Some of MSO’s partners include Growing in Grace Counseling, the Peterkin Foundation, Paterson Cares, Heart of Hannah, and the PIFFY Award Organization. The organization has also worked with Councilwoman Ruby Cotton at the Annual Thanksgiving Feeding for the homeless.
Roberts recalls that due to the pandemic, MSO was unable to raise ample funds for the shower event this year. This has caused the nonprofit to reach out to individuals, companies, families, friends, and fellow community organizations who support their vision to consider donating to or volunteering with MSO.
“Muture Sisters’ ultimate goal is to purchase our own Mobile Shower Unit,” says Roberts. “This would allow hot showers and supportive services to be offered to the homeless population on a more frequent basis.”
If you are interested in donating supplies or money to MSO’s Fourth Annual Daily Shower Event, please contact (862) 803-6317.
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