Health First Associate John Adams Brings Hot Showers, Dignity to Homeless

By  //  July 11, 2021

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PHILANTHROPY SPOTLIGHT

HEALTH FIRST REVENUE CYCLE SPECIALIST John Adams receives his Getting Results award from WKMG News 6 story producer Paul Giorgio. (Health First image)

John Adams, an 11-year veteran of Brevard’s biggest health system, made the trip halfway across the country to acquire a mobile shower facility. Now, his clients are clean but his giving lingers.

BREVARD CONTY, FLORIDA – A simple shower. Hot or cold water – if cooling off is your thing.  A bar of soap and clean, dry linens.

It’s a simple luxury most all of us enjoy daily – something we take for granted without so much as an afterthought. But to John Adams, a Revenue Cycle Specialist for Health First, that simple daily act suddenly took on a whole new meaning and level of importance after a chance encounter over a year ago.

John, who has worked for Health First for 11 years, was driving to dinner with his wife one evening before the pandemic when he spotted a group of homeless individuals on an embankment in Palm Bay.

“It just really struck my heart that, here I was headed to a steakhouse with my wife, and here were these people who really looked lost and in need. I felt led to reach out to them.”

Volunteer Grant Hammond, right, helps Streetside Showers guest Caesar into a shower room. (Health First image)

John returned to the site not long after and struck up a friendly conversation with a few who were gathered. They shared some bits and pieces about their lives, past and current situations. 

“As we were talking, one of the questions I just felt led to ask was, ‘So where do you shower?’ They pointed downhill and said, ‘over there in Palm Bay Springs.’”

Palm Bay Springs may sound like a hotel resort or luxury spa, but it is really retention water that feeds directly into a drainage canal – their self-proclaimed bathing location. 

“I just couldn’t escape that conversation or image, and that moment just kept replaying in my mind. I knew I had to do something,” he said.

John spoke with his wife, Nancy, and then reached out to a friend in Texas – Lance Olinski, who operates Streetside Showers in metropolitan Dallas. He listened to John and immediately donated one of his mobile two-stall shower trailers.

“I went up to Dallas and towed the trailer back to Palm Bay with me,” John said, “and here we are today with this fantastic two-stall unit, and we are looking to add another trailer in the coming months. There is tremendous need – with as many as 25 individuals sometimes visiting the Palm Bay shower location.”   

STREETSIDE SHOWERS guest Eric gets a fresh new hairdo from volunteer Debbie, a licensed hair stylist at Cuts and Color in the Melbourne Square Mall. (Healt First image)

Every Thursday and Saturday for 50 weeks a year (except Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks) John and his small team of volunteers provide hot showers in the mobile unit, and they’ve partnered with other organizations to provide personal hygiene items including new socks and new undergarments to the homeless community of Palm Bay and Titusville.

Sponsored by Health First, John and his Streetside Showers of Florida volunteers also partner with Daily Bread of Melbourne, Mosaic Palm Bay and LifePointe Ministries of Titusville which help to provide hot meals, haircuts and clean clothing as visitors wait to take a shower.

Some ride bikes to the location at Mosaic Palm Bay. Others walk. One gentleman even rides a bus from Melbourne to Palm Bay each Saturday for his shower, shave and refresh, then stays to help others as a form of “repayment.”

John, who at the age 65 recently earned his master’s degree in Biblical Studies with the help of Health First’s associate tuition assistance program, also serves on Health First’s volunteer chaplain team where, in his additional spare time, he serves as a member of Health First’s No One Dies Alone program, offering hospital patients without friends or family have a ready listener and friend with whom to talk, pray and fellowship with during their final days.

John Adams serves on Health First’s volunteer chaplain team where he is a member of the No One Dies Alone program. (Health First image)

For John, who still shows the energy and vigor of an idealistic young college student, his work and commitment, including that of his friends and family, point back to one Christian tenet he’s long held fast to: Matthew 25:40. 

“‘For whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers and sisters, you do unto me.’

“That scripture truly speaks to me and helps me to stay guided in what we do and who we do it for. This work has truly become my greatest moment, and I am so grateful to work for an organization that cares so much about our community and employees – allowing me the opportunity to be able do what I love. It is truly a blessing for me and others in many, many ways.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: John Adams and Streetside Showers was recently featured on Orlando’s WKMG News 6 as part of the station’s Getting Results award series. You can watch the news segment here.