I pull into the parking lot at Living Water of the Valley and head over to meet the other volunteers for a quick orientation and to get the lay of the land for the day. As we get direction for the different stations and how they all work together, I hear the familiar, “The most important thing, though, is just to have fun and make everyone feel welcome and safe.”
This is my third time volunteering with Cloud Covered Streets, so it’s a phrase I’ve heard from the team a few times before, and each time I leave the site for the day, I understand exactly how important this piece is.
Founded by Robert Thornton in May 2016, Cloud Covered Streets is a nonprofit organization that focuses on caring for people in our community experiencing homelessness by providing showers, laundry services, haircuts, employment and essential items.
Knowing the feeling of financial insecurity and being faced with the question of where the next meal would come from or how to make rent for the month is not altogether uncommon.
Between an economy that teeters like kids on a playground, turning a blind eye to the most vulnerable, and many individual hardships that can lead to poverty, the number of those in our community falling below the line add up.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2020, Arizona’s poverty rate was standing at 12.8%, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness reports an estimated 10,979 people in Arizona experiencing homelessness.
People experiencing homelessness not only face the adversity of how to live safely on the streets, but they’re also shunned by society and made to be seen as pariahs. This lack of acceptance is one more roadblock on their path to a life well lived. Cloud Covered Streets is showing how a little empathy and support of each other can make a monumental difference.
“One of the questions I would always ask was: ‘What is something you could really use?’ The most common answer was ‘A shower.’”
When founder Robert Thornton embarked on a street mission in 2015, he couldn’t have expected that it would inspire him to start his own nonprofit dedicated to helping those in our community. Then he met a man named Daniel whose belongings had been stolen a week prior, leaving him without even a shirt to his name, and he was driven to take action. Robert set out to determine what people like Daniel experiencing homelessness really need and how to get it to them.
In transforming a 22-foot cargo trailer, Cloud Covered Streets has created a haven for people living on the streets to safely access a shower and laundry services. What is an everyday routine for many people is a luxury to others, and that feeling of being refreshed is one that you see written on their face the moment they walk out of the stall. Visitors using their services also walk out to a new, clean set of underwear, socks, and shirt waiting for them and a licensed hairstylist ready to give them some fresh locks.
To further their mission in helping those experiencing homelessness, Cloud Covered Streets employs these individuals to help run the mobile unit for a two-month period and helps them find full-time employment and housing for when that period is over.
That all brings us back to this piece. Cloud Covered Streets doesn’t just focus on the tangible needs of those they help. They also make sure every person that stops in is treated with compassion and respect. These are people that are often pushed to the fringe of a society that looks down when they pass by.
They are people with stories and experiences that only they have lived, and the team understands the importance of giving people that space to be heard and feel valued through the simple act of conversation. As people wait for their showers or take some time to hang out and enjoy a snack, volunteers sit with them and talk, and more importantly, listen.
Cloud Covered Streets currently has operations in Phoenix, Arizona and Ft. Worth, Texas, and they’re looking to expand and bring these services to Tucson, Las Vegas, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Austin and Nashville. From volunteering your time at the mobile unit to donating through Amazon, there are plenty of ways you can get involved to benefit Cloud Covered Streets.
• Be an on-site volunteer where you’ll work the registration table to get people signed in for a shower, hand out sack lunches or cook lunch, hand out supplies, and chat with visitors.
• Know a hairstylist you think would like to help? Forward this blog and have them click the link above to volunteer their time!
• Click on the link above to donate funds on their site.
• Donate specific items directly through their Amazon Wishlist.
• Follow Cloud Covered Streets on Instagram or Facebook.
• Share their posts + inspire others to get involved!
• Refinance your vehicle to SunWest Credit Union before September 3rd, 2022, and we’ll donate $50 to Cloud Covered Streets!
“How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!” - George Elliston
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August 17, 2022
Published by SunWest Credit Union
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