Paul Schmitz, Co-Founder and Executive Director
Rhonda Schmitz, Co-Founder and Vice President
Paul and his wife, Rhonda, launched ShowerUp in the fall of 2016. Paul left a 30+ year career in Christian radio to serve ShowerUp full time. Rhonda is the director of store operations for Hattie Jane’s Creamery. They have 4 children, all girls, still at home and they attend Rolling Hills Community Church.
ShowerUp began as one of those moments where you are sure God is telling you to do something, but you wonder if He knows what He is talking about!
When we first thought about a mobile shower unit for the homeless, we wondered if it was even possible. Our family has spent years working with the homeless (first in Wichita, KS and then in Nashville) mostly providing meals, clothing, sleeping bags, backpacks, etc. We have made some wonderful friendships and had the privilege of seeing lives transformed over the years. We always had the perspective that whatever we were providing was simply a “handshake” that would eventually lead to a relationship. The relationship is so important because without it there can be no potential for discipleship.
We always wondered, though, what need wasn’t being met. What if we could start the relationship with a symbolic “hug”? If handing someone a meal is a “handshake”, then providing them with a shower must certainly be a “hug”! That became part of our core values.
It’s often defined as “unmerited favor.” It’s getting what we don’t deserve. For us, it translates into creating a level-playing-field approach to the friends we serve. Some call it dignity. Grace says that we are all broken, we have all missed the mark, we have parts of our story that we aren’t proud of, but we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder as we go through life…together.
Someone said that you can live a month without food, a week without water, but less than a minute without hope. Hope is optimism. It says that tomorrow might be a better day. It’s the possibility of a job, housing, freedom from addiction, restoration of relationships, and a future that has brightness.
The thing that binds it all together is centered around love. It’s the verb that cleans a shower, not AFTER someone uses it, but in preparation for the NEXT person. Love sits and talks, hugs, trusts, and anchors the relationship.
In Nashville, like most other cities across the country, there are resources for the homeless to get meals, clothing and other necessities. We discovered that there are very few places to get a hot shower and take care of basic hygiene. In fact, for the nearly 10,000 homeless men, women and children in the Nashville area, there are fewer than a dozen shower heads available to them on a drop-in basis. That’s part of the reason why ShowerUp exists. Designed to be mobile so we can go to those we serve, our mobile shower units are clean, safe, and comfortable. We affirm and support the work of all the organizations that serve the poor, the homeless, and the transitional in our cities. We believe that, together, we can come alongside, provide a unique service, and help our friends and neighbors know that they are loved.
Together we can ShowerGrace, ShowerHope, ShowerLove…with ShowerUp!