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Lava Mae: Delivering dignity, one shower at a time

3 min read

Better Society
Lava Mae: Delivering dignity, one shower at a time
Source: drkfoundation.org

There are many people who live on the streets and don’t have access to basic hygiene services. Lava Mae mobile showers are giving homeless people a clean start.

Lava Mae brings showers to the homeless

Lava Mae is taking ‘Radical Hospitality’ to the streets — to restore dignity, rekindle optimism, and fuel a sense of opportunity for people experiencing homelessness — one shower at a time!

OLD BUSSES ARE TRANSFORMED INTO MOBILE SHOWER UNITS THAT TOUR THROUGH SAN FRANCISCO AND L.A “I just started thinking, if you can put gourmet food on wheels and take it anywhere, why couldn’t you do that with showers and toilets?” Lava Mae founder, Doniece Sandoval Source: Facebook/BrightVibes

Taking ‘Radical Hospitality’ to the street: 4000+ individuals have taken 20,000+ showers so far

Founded by Doniece Sandoval in 2013, Lava Mae began by converting public transportation buses into showers and toilets on wheels to deliver hygiene and rekindle dignity for their homeless guests in San Francisco. Lava Mae LA began in 2016.

Today, they’re taking ‘Radical Hospitality’ to the street by bringing humanity, innovation, and collaboration to the way services are delivered to those moving through homelessness. To-date, Lava Mae has served more than 4,000 individuals who have taken 20,000+ showers on their mobile units, dramatically raised awareness about the lack of access to showers and basic hygiene for their homeless neighbours, and inspired new mobile hygiene programs across the US and abroad.

Now Lava Mae are amplifying their impact globally by making it as easy as possible to replicate their mobile hygiene services and other programs in cities everywhere.

As we move forward, we are deepening our work with Pop-Up Care Villages that dramatically increase access to vital services on the street – where people are.’

Source: Facebook/LavaMaeLA

Lava Mae is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organisation that brings humanity, innovation, and collaboration to the way hygiene services are provided to those experiencing homelessness. 
They began by retrofitting a public transportation bus into a mobile shower unit with toilets to deliver and restore dignity. This year they are deepening their work with Pop-Up Care Villages that dramatically increase access to vital services on the street – where people are.
The mobile shower units operate in San Francisco and Los Angeles and the model is replicable Lava Mae is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organisation that brings humanity, innovation, and collaboration to the way hygiene services are provided to those experiencing homelessness.
They began by retrofitting a public transportation bus into a mobile shower unit with toilets to deliver and restore dignity. This year they are deepening their work with Pop-Up Care Villages that dramatically increase access to vital services on the street – where people are. Source: Facebook/LavaMaeLA

The mobile shower model is being replicated in countries around the world

Each bus provides 2,000 showers a week. They treat their guests with dignity and respect so they get a clean start to the day in more ways than one. Lava Mae also provide them with a hygiene kit full of essentials.

Lava Mae’s program has inspired dozens of mobile hygiene programs across the United States, and so far over 500 people have replicated the service in 10 countries, spreading access to hygiene services worldwide.

Lava Mae started one-stop pop-up care villages to provide access to services for homeless people, such as haircuts, meals, job advice, books, clothes, medical and dental services.

Pop-up care villages provide access to services such as haircuts, meals, job advice, books, clothes, medical and dental services “Being able to step out of a hot shower and feel good about yourself completely changes your perspective for the rest of the day. It can make a total difference as to whether you make it out of your situation, or not.” ~ Juan, Lava Mae guest. Source: Facebook/LavaMaeLA

Say it with a Sock!

There are many myths and stereotypes that exist around people experiencing homelessness. Contrary to what many believe this is what the face of homelessness in the US looks like today:

  • 80% of people experiencing homelessness are only temporarily homeless
  • 37% are homeless for a week or less
  • 66% are homeless for 30 days or less
  • 44% of homeless people have jobs but can’t escape homelessness
  • Families now comprise more than 30% of the overall homeless population
  • People aged 50+ living on the streets now make up 31% of the homeless population
  • More than 1.2 million students are homeless; nearly 76,000 live without parents or guardians.
  • Of the 565,000 homeless people in the U.S, about 40% are women; 57% report that domestic or sexual violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness.

Delivering Socks and Smiles!

Say it with a Sock learned that socks are the single most requested item among people experiencing homelessness. With few opportunities for people to wash their clothing, finding clean socks can present a daily challenge. 

By partnering with Lava Mae, Say it with a Sock can help provide thousands of new socks to people who need them most. Their hope is that every person who takes a shower will be able to experience the restorative feeling of putting on a clean, new pair of socks.

Source: SayItWithASock

Make an Impact

Find out more or donate to Lava Mae

Click if you would like to help Lava Mae expand access to hygiene, dignity and opportunity for people experiencing homelessness, or find out more about replicating the scheme, or donate.