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November's Neighborhood Hero, Taylor Reed of ShowerUp

Taylor Reed's Shower Up helps unhoused people get a hot shower and some extra kindness.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Whether you think about it or not, you're probably very thankful to have a shower and be able to use it whenever you want. Unfortunately, this isn't everyone's reality, and this month's B2EDi Neighborhood Hero, the leader of Huntsville's ShowerUp aims to fix just that.

With a special Happy Thanksgiving to this month's hero, let's meet Taylor Reed.

The sound of a shower is something many don't even think about taking for granted. We can get one every day or multiple times a day. But for some, a shower is harder to come by, and a blessing when it happens.

The nonprofit ShowerUp services 6 cities, including Huntsville at First Stop. It provides mobile showers and personal care for those experiencing homelessness.

Most of the time, we hop out of the shower feeling like a brand new person. "When you have new and you put on new, you feel better. When you feel good, you do better, explains Jamar Hamilton, ShowerUp participant and friend of Taylor Reed.

Stephen Smith, also a ShowerUp participant  friend of Taylor Reed, says, "Personally, I mean, I've never seen a truck with a shower in it, that's movable, to help people out. When I feel dirty, I don't feel myself. I feel kind of grumpy, mean kind of feel. But once I get a shower, I feel brand new, almost like, Jesus, you know, just, just coming out of the water and feeling new and fresh, you know? And it's a good feeling, really good feeling."

And team leader of Huntsville ShowerUp and this month's Neighborhood Hero, Taylor Reed knows that showers only go skin deep. "I mean, a, a shower is a great thing. You feel good about yourself, you clean off, but you're going to need a shower again tomorrow. It's really about making relationships with these individuals."

He also knows showering these folks with grace, hope and love is real mission here. Smith says, "I just got baptized. I'm talking about him being a hero, he literally, physically baptized me himself. He put a little spark in me to help the ShowerUp. I've volunteered for them."

This drive to serve comes from a place within Reed. Just over a decade ago, Reed and his family were greatly impacted by the tornado outbreak of 2011. "I did lose my house in the tornadoes in 2011, living in Harvest and lost everything. So I know what it's like to have nothing. I know what it's like to go a little while without taking a shower and so I on some level, have some familiarity with what it's like to be homeless."

Lori Reed, Taylor Reed's wife, saw a difference. "After that, he changed. He would always think of others first before himself, and he would always want to help people. If he saw somebody on the street, he would always want to roll down his window and give them money or give them something that they needed."

And Reed deeply values the relationships he's built. "It's so cool driving around Huntsville, you know, as the city grows, all the people who don't have housing, a lot of times they're walking around on the streets and every day I'll pass somebody, roll the window down and yell their name, wave at him! And, you know, you just know your friends in the community and that's what it's all about. It's helping my friends and those in our community who don't have showers get a shower."

And although a shower isn't a fix-all solution, when was the last time you stepped out of one feeling worse?

Do you know someone who should be honored as a Neighborhood Hero? Click here to nominate them.


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