This is another great idea that became a reality after a successful Kickstarter campaign. That means that, not only did someone come up with this idea, but enough other people joined in, wanting to help make it happen, that it's actually going on now in San Francisco!
If you woke up this morning and showered in the privacy of your own bathroom, consider yourself lucky: America's nearly 600,000 homeless people often don't have a clean place to clean up.
But in San Francisco, where the number of homeless has risen seven percent in the last decade, a non-profit organization is putting bathrooms on wheels and driving them to those in need. The group Lava Mae, whose name loosely translates to "wash me" in Spanish, is retrofitting decommissioned city buses with ensuite bathrooms and bringing them into neighborhoods like the Castro, the Mission and the Tenderloin, currently providing about 200 showers each week.
While food and shelter are certainly pressing needs, Lava Mae's founder Doniece Sandoval believes that a warm, private shower—something most people take for granted—provides an intangible essential: dignity. "You can't overcome adversity if you don't have dignity and a sense of self," Sandoval, a former marketing executive, told TODAY.
Sandoval first became interested in the issue in 2012, when she passed a young woman under an overpass near the San Francisco Design Center who was repeating over and over to herself that she'd never get clean. "It made me wonder what her chances were," said Sandoval, who was then inspired to research exactly how many public shower stalls existed in the city. Her findings were disheartening: Just 16 stalls for the estimated 3,500 people who sleep on the streets any given night.
"I started to ask myself, if you can put gourmet food on wheels and take it anywhere, why not have mobile showers and toilets?" Sandoval said.
Her initial research revealed a handful of small mobile-shower projects around the country, typically housed in trailers or converted RVs. Lava Mae came together when she heard that the city would be retiring old diesel buses. "I told myself, I want those buses!" she said. Three years later, Lava Mae has three buses that were donated by the city; two are currently operating at five different locations, and a third vehicle is scheduled to launch in early 2016.
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