Can you spare a cup of soap?

By: Don Miller
St Vincent de Paul of North Central Montana

When you picture a typical business or customer of PETRA products, you probably see health clubs and their members. Let me tell you that nearly all of our customers can’t afford their next meal, let alone a refreshing day at the spa. We serve our clients living on the streets and in the local prison. Beyond the necessities of food and shelter, we have found the gift of a shower and some clean clothes to be medicine for people needing hope. The volunteers of our group visit jails and homeless camps with a few treats and nutrition, but one of the most appreciated gifts we can share is cleanliness.

We have found that body wash and shampoo are a blessing to those struggling through life each day. In the jail, we give writing paper, a bit of candy and a small cup of shampoo. That shampoo gives a nice aroma in their cell, it helps them stay healthier in the over-crowded cell blocks, and it even doubles as laundry soap so they can clean their uniforms more than once per week.


We also have a food bank where we distribute toiletries and such along with food. Our public showers are busy every day and it is amazing how a homeless person, after a shower, can sit down and discuss plans for improving their life. This is a world away from the luxuries many of us have.

We are trying to reduce even a small piece of the problem by taking in homeless military veterans (30% of our local homeless population). We opened Grace Home one year ago and house 10 men at a time. One of the amenities in this shelter is body wash and hair conditioner dispensers in the showers. Again, when you feel good, you gain ambition and self worth. Our success rate for this first year is better than 80% of the veterans working and living independently in less than six months.

We are very pleased with the results we’ve seen in a short time and we pray that fewer people will be living in the jails and on the streets in the future. Consider the possibilities of cleaning up the neighborhood where you live. It truly is a wonder, what can happen in this world when you share your love and a little cup of bubbles.

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