Mackenzie Stacey became inspired to have a hygiene drive at UWM’s College of Nursing after hearing on the news about the showers on wheels that Muhammad Mahdi is building for the homeless and impoverished.
“Nurse Mahdi was asking for help in the community, and I knew I can help in a small way, enough to make a difference,” said Stacey, a master’s student in nursing at UWM.
Stacey decided, after conferring with students in her summer nursing course, that a hygiene drive to collect toothpaste, toothbrushes, travel sized soaps and hair care products as well as gently used clothing would be the best way to support Mahdi’s mission.
“Everyone deserves a pair of clean socks,” said Gina Lukaszewicz, marketing director for UWM’s College of Nursing.
The hygiene drive has gathered a couple hundred travel size shampoo and conditioners with several bags of clothes and hygiene products since starting on July 15. Stacey has been contacted by many people at UWM and outside of the Milwaukee community who have wanted to donate.
In 2018, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report found that there were almost 5,000 people who were homeless for more than one day in Milwaukee, with half of that population being parents and their children.
“My summer class and clinical have opened my eyes to the large amount of need there is within Milwaukee and the surrounding communities,” Stacey said.
Muhammad Mahdi, also known as Nurse Mahdi, has been working with homeless populations since 2005 where he has given medical advice, handed out clothing and coordinated neighborhood cleanups.
Now, he is fundraising to build 10 mobile shower units, which he calls community resource hygiene clinics, for use around Milwaukee County by the end of this summer. By the end of summer in 2020, he wants to have about 40 clinics and receive any resources that the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County can provide for the clinics.
There are many things that homeless people have asked for from Mahdi, from water to toilet paper to 2% milk. Frequently, Mahdi heard requests for a hot shower, something he wasn’t sure he could provide until he came up with plans to build the shower on wheels.
“Nurse Mahdi bringing showers on wheels was a really crazy thought to me, but really cool,” Stacey said.