Peter Kelleher, known as “The Soupman,” started a non-profit in 2018 in memory of his son, Travis.
Kelleher, a Maine native, said circumstances forced his son to live on and off the streets. He passed away in 2016 after battling addiction.
He created “Support the Soupman” in an effort to help the homeless population by providing care backpacks filled with food, toiletries, clothes, water and other essentials.
When Kelleher’s non-profit gained traction, he quickly realized there was another necessity missing from their everyday lives: a place to shower.
But he knew he couldn’t just hand out showers like he did his care backpacks.
In November, Kelleher decided to order his first mobile shower. He said his goal is to ensure there is one in every major city in New England.
“People helping people is pretty simple, and that’s what it’s all about to me,” Kelleher said.
On Thursday, Pawtucket received one of Kelleher’s portable showers, which set up shop on Barton Street.
City officials tell Eyewitness News they reached out to Kelleher after a local non-profit, House of Hope CDC, was forced to move to a showerless location on Roosevelt Street.
House of Hope Program Manager Sara Melucci said they used to have showers at their Dexter Street location, among dozens of other services to help the city’s homeless population.
“While many have been able to temporarily access showers through our shower to empower unit in Providence, we at House of Hope recognize and value that folks should be able to have this basic need met at the community of their choice,” Melucci said.
The portable shower station will remain in Pawtucket for six months. It will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
Clothes, food, toiletries and haircuts will also be offered.