SEATTLE, Wash. — Past the balloons and down the stairs of the University Lutheran Church, a new day for homeless Seattle women is dawning.
Ruth Herold, who runs the Elizabeth Gregory Home for women without one, showed what the fuss was all about.
"What started everything was the idea that we were going to be able to have showers," said Herold. "And a woman could meet all their needs in one space.
The home already had a kitchen where women could cook their own meals and space to discuss the issues they deal with while homeless.
But no matter how badly they needed one, they could not take a shower.
"The showers are just critical to people's sense of self and hygiene," said Herold. "And being able to do that all in one place."
That fact is what drew Seattle's mayor there on this Saturday.
"There isn't one answer to solving the crisis of homelessness that this city faces," said Ed Murray. "But it is this project that we are about to cut the ribbon for today that symbolizes how we will eventually be able to address this crisis."
And with that, plus the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, the showers in the church basement are open for business. It is just one small step toward making the difficulty of living on the street, but, well, fresher.
"We're just so excited," said Herold. "Our women, they can hardly wait to be able to take showers."
Not just the showers are new, they have actually doubled their staff to four, including two women who were once homeless, too.