For a person experiencing homelessness, seemingly normal daily activities like eating and showering are challenging to accomplish. Inspired to help, Thrive Community Fitness co-owner and manager Shane Johnson is planning a community outreach event that welcomes anyone in need.
Beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, Thrive Community Fitness will be closed to the public, but open to members of the homeless community. Anyone in need is welcome to stop by the downtown Monroe facility between 4 and 8 p.m., when Thrive will offer free showers, the chance to do laundry, hot meals, haircut vouchers and goody bags filled with things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, hygiene products, soap, shampoo and deodorant. Johnson is seeking donations to help support the event, along with volunteers to ensure its success.
Johnson has long wanted the opportunity to get Thrive more involved in community events, and the idea to extend a helping hand to those in need appealed to him greatly.
“I know that the homeless population is increasing here in Monroe, and so I wanted to give back,” Johnson said. “This just popped into my head as I was sitting on the couch.”
He gauged community interest by posting on social media, immediately receiving widespread support through numerous offers of help and donations.
“I am completely blown away by the response we’ve received so far,” said Johnson in a news release. “I always knew Monroe was a great place to live, but this response really proves that. Our community cares about each other. I love that.”
Thrive is collaborating with volunteers and other local outreach providers, including the Sky Valley Food Bank, Beck’s Place and Take the Next Step, to enhance the experience for attendees. Hand Up Project founder Robert Smiley is coordinating a mobile laundry truck, and is planning to provide prepaid cellphones, hats, gloves and scarves, Johnson said.
Business partners include Sahara Pizza Monroe, the Monroe Digital Copy Center and Master Ji’s Taekwondo.
Johnson is a veteran, who grew up in Gold Bar and graduated from Sultan High School in 2006. He made the decision to join the military straight out of high school, based on a desire to serve his county. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force as a staff sergeant in 2013, after seven years of service that took him as far away as Germany. Johnson earned numerous honors while serving, including a leadership award from the Air Force leadership academy, Airman of the Year at Buechel Air Base and Airman of the Year for the 52 Fighter Wing, based at Spangdahlem Air Base.
Upon his return home, he used his GI Bill to enroll in classes at the Everett Community College East County Campus in Monroe, and he’s currently working toward a degree in business. In 2015, former East County Campus Director Rob Prosch honored Johnson as Student of the Year.
Johnson was employed at Thrive just days after his separation from the military, accepting a job that offered potential for advancement. He proceeded up through the ranks, moving from personal training to management, and now co-ownership.
He chose Monroe as his home to be close to family members still living in Gold Bar.
Johnson is working to raise awareness of the event and is seeking ways to spread the word among individuals in need, so they know they are welcome.
Donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, combs, brushes, shampoo, soap and antiperspirant can be dropped off at Thrive, which is located at 118 N. Lewis St., Suite 104, in downtown Monroe.
To find out how to get involved, contact Johnson at 360-805-4844. Click here for more information about the event.