Union County Fresh Start Program


Point of Contact

For questions or more information regarding the FRESH START program please call the Action Line at 908-677-5405 or email dhsaction@ucnj.org.


To provide a mobile trailer with access to clean showers, laundry services and bathroom facilities to individuals in need throughout Union County.


This program will be a public and private partnership including local nonprofit organizations that provide direct services.  It will serve as the central entry point to a continuum of transformational services, to help connect them to the critical main stream resources that will put them on the path to self-sufficiency.  Through the partnerships and outreach efforts, individuals will have the ability to: access emergency shelter, clothing, in addition to case management services like housing assistance and linkages, mental health services, and job assistance.

Proper hygiene and access to amenities that facilitate good hygiene are a basic necessity.  Many individuals can go days, weeks, and even months without a shower or clean clothing, because they do not have access to basic hygiene supplies like soap nor running hot water.  Providing access to a shower to someone who doesn’t have access to one often can help with confidence builder for a job interview.  For children, a shower is often the difference between going to school or not.  Above all, this program can help people regain their self-confidence and dignity.  It will transform the lives of individuals through dignity and compassion by providing access to a clean shower, laundry services, and bathroom facilities which will enhance their opportunity to secure employment/housing/medical care, etc.

Program Overview

The mobile trailer will arrive at the scheduled location and begin shower/laundry services promptly at 10am.

  • Bathroom and Shower facilities will be available on a first come first serve basis.  Each individual will have a fifteen (15) minute slot.  We will allow five (5) minutes in between for cleaning the unit.
  • Laundry services will be available on a first come first serve basis.  Each individual will be able to wash one (1) load of laundry (wash/dry).
  • Nonprofit organizations and the Union County DHS/Division of Outreach & Advocacy/Division of Social Services staff will be onsite to conduct screening for services that individuals might be eligible for.

Service Areas

Elizabeth Public Library (11 S. Broad St, Elizabeth NJ)

Plainfield Public Library (800 Park Avenue, Plainfield NJ)

Donation Wish List

  • Towels: bath & wash
  • Toiletry items:
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Mouthwash (non-alcoholic)
    • Soap
    • Shampoo/conditioner
    • Deodorant
    • Lotion
    • Hair brush
    • Shaving cream/disposable razors
    • Dental Floss
    • Q-Tips/Cotton Swabs
    • Nail Clippers
  • Gender neutral sweat suits – medium to XXXL sizes
  • Gender neutral socks
  • Under garments for Male/Women (underwear, undershirt) – medium to XXXL sizes?
  • Feminine hygiene care packet (pad/tampon)
  • Baby/wet wipes – small packet for keeping fresh in between shower access
  • First-Aid kits – band aids, Neosporin
  • Anti-diarrhea tablets

Community Partners

  • Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services
  • Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless
  • Family Promise (Headquarters & Union County office)
  • Community Access Unlimited
  • Iris House
  • Plainfield Action Services
  • Prevention Links
  • PROCEED, Inc.
  • The Gateway Family YMCA
  • The Salvation Army (Elizabeth, Union & Plainfield)
  • Urban League of Union County
  • YWCA Union County

Quotes about the Experience using Fresh Start

“We are so thankful for Unión County! It was Great Service from start to finish. We received winter clothes, employment information, showers, and housing information.”

Karen & Bruno from Elizabeth

“We are delighted to host this amazing initiative, we look forward to working with the county to helping as many of our sisters and brothers as we can.”

Bernadette Murphy, Executive Director, St. Joseph’s Social Service Center

“This program is fantastic not just for myself but for the community. There are so many people here that are in need of a break away to just take a shower and wash their clothes. I’m very thankful for this and hope that it continues.”

Mario from Elizabeth