A TBM shower unit is helping Arlington Life Shelter meet a 40 percent surge in clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arlington Life Shelter is currently in the process of building a new two-story, 12,000 square-foot facility at its 325 W. Division St location. To make way for construction, shelter capacity was scaled back in January from about 80 residents to 25 residents and operations were moved to an area church, said Jim Reeder, interim executive director of the nonprofit. 

Then, a few weeks ago, in response to the social distancing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, shelter officials decided to move again to the North Davis Church of Christ so the Life Shelter could both accommodate about 50 more residents and allow residents to shelter-in-place during the day. It soon became apparent that the Life Shelter would need to increase capacity even more to meet a rising demand for services. 

“There was physical space available (at the church) but we didn’t have enough showering facilities to handle that many more,” Reeder says. “We couldn’t bring in more because then we wouldn’t have enough showers.”

In just a matter of days, the community came together to make the addition of the showers possible. Mindy Cochran, executive director of the Arlington Housing Authority, helped make the connections between those who could help and the Life Shelter.

“There have been a whole bunch of pieces to this puzzle that have fallen into place,” she says. One of her first contacts was Tillie Burgin, executive director of Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex. Tillie Burgin put Cochran in touch with Clark Burgin at Mission Arlington, who had access to a the TBM shower unit from Odessa. After a request from Mission Arlington to the trailer owner, it is on loan to the Life Shelter as long as it is needed, Clark Burgin said.

“We have been fortunate at the shelter,” Reeder said. “People in the community, the faith community and businesses always come forward, whether it’s jars of peanut butter and paper towels or showers.”