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Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- Most of us take jumping into a hot shower as a basic necessity. The homeless, however, regard it as a luxury.

In less than a month, MissionChange will have a four-stall mobile shower facility available for the homeless in Albany.

"We estimate there are anywhere from 400 to 1,000 homeless people in Albany," MissionChange Project Coordinator David Blackwell said. "We recently conducted a survey (of the homeless) and came up with 436. But the numbers are much higher than that because many of the people would not talk to us."

Money for the unit, which will also have a washer and dryer in the back, came from the proceeds of last November's Hope for the Hungry and Homeless Sleep Out, along with donations from Albany Electric, The Albany Board of Realtors and the Debutante Club.

The goal is simple: give Albany's homeless a safe, clean place to bathe and wash their clothes.

"During our monthly missions (feeding the homeless) we noticed that some of the guys hadn't showered in more than a month," Blackwell said. "Many of us never realize that something as basic as a shower can change lives, not only in terms of hygiene but in improving self-esteem and confidence."

Once the individual shower stalls and washer and dryer are in place, Blackwell said the trailer would be directed to where the homeless gather to eat, such as churches that provide them meals.

MissionChange is asking for the community's help in naming the mobile shower. Log onto the group's Facebook page or send an e-mail to todd@missionchange.com.

The group's next project involves a partnership with the Albany-Dougherty Coalition to End Homelessness to get "A Place 4 Hope" up and running. Blackwell described the project as a day center for the homeless.

"A lot of these people don't have anywhere to go for six or seven hours of the day," Blackwell said. "The new facility will provide a fax, phone and computers ... It's not going to be just a place to sit.

"And because of the economy, we are seeing more and more of it (homelessness)."

Blackwell said community involvement is crucial in helping solve the problem.

"We have a saying: 'change the world from our own backyard'," Blackwell said. "We want to help Albany to focus on how easy it is to lend a hand.

"And it all starts here in Albany."