Insurance Protection Specialists (IPS) in Flowood, Mississippi, has been named a Change Agent—earning a $3,000 donation from Safeco and Liberty Mutual to Shower Power MS, which provides mobile showers and other services to homeless individuals in the Jackson area. IPS agent Clancy Walker first learned about Shower Power through her friendship with the founder; now, the entire agency supports the effort. Here, she shares her giving story.
At IPS, we’ve always wanted to actually serve in our community, instead of just writing a check. Don’t get me wrong—financial support is vital, and we strive to provide that when we can as well. But “hands-on” help, like delivering lunches to workers at care facilities and volunteering our time for nonprofits, is more personal and meaningful to us.
That fits in perfectly with the mission of Shower Power MS, which was started by a friend of mine, Teresa Renkenberger. While Shower Power serves the homeless population in the Jackson area by providing clothing and meals, the organization’s main focus is something a little more personal, too—it offers mobile showers and hygiene resources.
You might not think that’s a big deal, but to these folks, it can be transformative. As Teresa likes to say, it’s more than a shower: It shows them that people truly care, and it goes a long way toward restoring dignity. One man even told her that he needed a shower more than he needed food! That’s how important a simple shower can be.
Even homeless shelters don’t always offer access to showers. So Teresa spearheaded an effort to convert a food truck into a mobile shower unit—here, in two separate stalls, individuals have hot and cold water, soap, shampoo, and some much-needed privacy. Shower Power serves 60-70 people each week, and they’re planning to create a space with washers and dryers for clients to do laundry.
Everyone at IPS takes part in our volunteering, from donating clothing and food to putting together hygiene packs—we made 80 of those recently. Each had deodorant, tissues, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a razor, lotion, and lip balm. Delivering them (along with doughnuts, because everyone needs doughnuts at least once in a while) was so humbling and rewarding; we’re hoping to plan activities like this at least once a month.
Even though it’s not the goal of our charitable efforts, we have found that volunteering has an impact on our business. Clients are proud of our involvement in the community—they mention it in testimonials, and some have gotten involved themselves with the organizations we support. People have become clients after meeting us at volunteer events, too.
Of course, the best part of volunteering is the great feeling it gives you. And knowing that our work with Shower Power is helping others to feel better about themselves makes it even more powerful.