You don’t have to go very far to notice someone who is living on the street. Sometimes you spot them while walking to work, and other times you see them nuzzled up under a bridge as you pass by.
While the holidays inspire people to help the homeless through donations, food, and shelter, there is a new organization who is taking their show of support to a whole new level…365 days a year.
Doniece Sandoval abandoned her career in marketing to start a unique campaign to help the homeless population of San Francisco. The founder of Lava Mae, she takes decommissioned city buses and turns them into a beacon of hope.
The buses have scheduled stops in downtown San Francisco five days a week. But instead of transporting these folks from one place to the next, the buses have been setup as mobile shower stations that help the homeless feel human once again.
“One day I passed a woman in the street and she was very dirty and basically crying, and I heard her say that she would never be clean. There’s obviously a lot of layers to that but I was wondering what her opportunities were to actually get clean,” Sandoval said in an ABC interview.
Currently San Francisco has one of the largest populations of homeless families across the nation, with numbers reaching close to 7000. And the few existing shower stalls throughout the city are not enough to accommodate all of those people.
Each bus is fitted with two shower stations. The Public Utilities Commission is also allowing the buses to connect into fire hydrants around the city, at the expense of Lava Mae.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency donated one bus for the cause, and plans to donate several more if Sandoval can prove her project is making a positive difference.
“By repurposing retired transportation buses, we transform existing resources into vehicles for good,” says Sandoval.
Lava Mae is a non-profit organization that readily admits their “showers on wheels” will not solve the homelessness problem. But their willingness make a dent and to help people enjoy a hot shower, something most of us take for granted, is exactly what will make them a pioneer in changing the face of homelessness around the country.