Compassion Connection’s roots go back to 2013 when a community member sat down on the sidewalk for conversations with several individuals down on their luck. The conversation lead to the Hollywood Adventist Church opening its dressing room showers to a few individuals living on the adjacent block. For those humble beginnings, the word got out and the program grew. The formalized shower program initially modeled itself after local day shelter programs. The church would open its lobby and individuals would come in relax and add their name to the paper shower sign up list. Showers were on a first come first serve basis and were served in the order of sign up. This meant that some individuals would arrive in the morning and be forced to wait until the end of the day to shower. This prevented them from doing other meaningful, essential activities. The team assisting with the day shelter knew there had to be a better way.
In July 2017, the showers and day shelter closed for a strategic pause. As a result, Compassion Connection was born. Compassion Connection was based on a revolutionary idea among service providers. The idea that no matter what an individual’s socioeconomic status was, everyone deserved top quality service, care, and ease of use. The program chose not to continue the day shelter but instead to focus on its core strategic strength of providing a supreme personal care experience. The Compassion team drew inspiration from the spa industry’s reputation for excellent service and self-care. The team revolutionized the way services were provided to low income individuals by implementing a personal care booking system. The booking system allowed guests to use the Compassion website to select and book their own appointments according to their needs and to eliminate waiting. In addition, our hospitality concierges happily assist guests who prefer to walk in for booking or utilize our phone or text booking numbers. The renewed focus on our core mission and the streamlined efficiency of the booking system enabled the team to provide 3,900 showers in 2017.
By 2018, Compassion Connection was bursting at the seams and turning away guests because the team lacked the capacity necessary to serve the demand. That summer the team partnered with The Shower of Hope to bring in a mobile shower unit every Tuesday to release some of the capacity constraints and help provide more showers. 2018 was a record year thanks in part to the additional capacity provided by the mobile shower unit.
2019 was the first full year of the partnership with The Shower of Hope. Due to increased operational efficiencies and the additional capacity provided by the mobile unit the Compassion concierges facilitated 5,200 showers and served 600+ unique individuals.
As 2020 began, it looked like the compassion team was on track to see a plateau in its year over year service gains. Then in March the world was rocked by the initial wave of a global pandemic that caused businesses to close and workers to stay at home. With gyms shuttered and low-income service providers significantly modifying and shifting the services they provided. Many low-income individuals who typically rely on these facilities for personal care resources were left scrambling to find access elsewhere. Compassion Connection saw a 50% surge in demand within a week of the stay at home orders going into effect.
The Compassion was team uniquely positioned to serve in the middle of the crisis. Our booking system and previous procedural modifications meant that with only a few minor tweaks our showers were able to continue to operate without interruption well remaining in compliance with the Covid-19 guidelines. The shower demand during the first three months of the pandemic meant that the showers were consistently booked up a week in advance and guests had to be turned away. To address this we talked with our community partners who reached out to their network and a collaborative partnership developed. The Kohler company, Adventist Health, World Vision, and The Shower of Hope are all working with the Compassion team to provide, mobile showers, staffing, personal care products, operational expertise. Today we are operating with extended weekly operating hours and provides 1,000 showers a month. As we work to address the personal care needs of low income individuals during Covid-19.
Check out what a day looks like at Compassion Connection