Sonora, CA — A local nonprofit working to provide solutions to Tuolumne County homelessness is stepping up a mission that literally showers those in need with essential services.
Founded seven years ago by Hazel and Dick Mitchell, the 501-c-3 Give Someone A Chance (GSAC) organization has been expanding its efforts in tandem with community partners with the goal of bringing dignity and assistance to those who are homeless and marginalized using sustainable tools, like the mobile shower bus program, which this week making its three-day schedule debut.
Speaking with Clarke Broadcasting, Hazel shares that prior to the existence of the shower-on-wheels there were only three shower facilities for homeless use across the entire county. “We know that the most fundamental barrier for the homeless to find employment and a sense of well-being is showers and clean clothing,” she emphasizes.
Shower Bus Amenities, Stops
Since so many of those in need do not have regular access to transportation, the shower bus program is designed to provide free bathing access at multiple locations. Clean underwear, socks and toiletry kits containing toothpaste, hand soap, shampoo, feminine products and a comb or brush also supplied free of charge.
The current schedule is Tuesdays in Tuolumne at the United Methodist Church at 18851 Cedar St. Wednesdays, the bus settles in at Sonora’s Discover Life Seventh Day Adventist Church, located at 40 South Forest Rd. Fridays, it sets up in Jamestown at the Hope Center of the Assemblies of God, which is at 10365 9th St. Hours for each are from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
“We have been giving showers now during a trial period, testing each site to get out all the flaws…so this is our first week to do three days per week. And as we advance, of course, we will be going to five days a week, depending on our clientele and our needs,” Mitchell recounts.
All Ages Welcome, Homeless Or Otherwise
She estimates at full steam the shower bus can serve 32 people per day. The showers are available to all ages to those in need whether homeless or not and families are welcome. However, anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian or bring emancipation papers that can then be used to register through a simple signup process.
The cost of delivering the program, estimated at $100,000 per year to provide five to six thousand showers, is funded through private donations through GSAC’s PayPal portal on its website, checks sent to its Jamestown post office box and through various fundraising activities. Mitchell gratefully acknowledges the generosity of Adventist Health Sonora’s provision of washcloths and towels, which will save the program a significant amount of money.
She adds that volunteers and in-kind donations are always needed. “We will always be in need of feminine products along with gently used socks, underwear and t-shirts, which are sterilized before they are handed out.” Free clothing is also offered through Nancy’s Hope Community Center, which often sets up in tandem with the shower bus. GSAC is now in the process of setting up a donation drop-off area at Cuesta Court, off Tuolumne Road in East Sonora across from Vets Helping Vets.
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