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connect / 2018

Shower Power: Rekindling Dignity & Unlocking Opportunity for our Houseless Neighbors

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Activation Challenge by Lava Mae

Angelenos, you can bring mobile showers to our unhoused neighbors and help them rekindle dignity, restore hope and unlock the opportunity that comes with being clean.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

What if you couldn’t shower? How would you feel? How would people treat you? Would you be able to keep your job or apply for one? Access to hygiene is essential to paving a path out of homelessness. No one can lift themselves out of poverty if they can’t get clean. Lava Mae will mobilize 100,000 Angelenos to help us deliver mobile showers and make it possible for our unhoused neighbors to restore their dignity, maintain their health + well-being and get clean so they can access jobs + housing.

Which of the connect metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs
  • Rates of volunteerism

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the best place to LEARN
  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Advocate for policy
  • Digital organizing or activism
  • Trainings and/or in-person engagements
  • Create new tools or technologies for greater civic/political engagement
  • Encourage businesses to change practices
  • Increase participation in political processes
  • Influence individual behavior
  • Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities
  • Increase donations to organizations and causes

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to connect?

“Lava Mae saved my life. I feel like a million bucks after one of their showers, and I can walk down the streets with my head held high. They’ve become my Tuesday family.”

~ Luis, Lava Mae guest

“Providing mobile showers to those in need has been inspiring. I’ve made long lasting connections with our shower guests and consider them my friends. I have a much better understanding of why people are homeless, and I have so much love and compassion for them. Seeing the impact on the people of the LA neighborhood where I volunteer is a blessing, and it’s given me much more of a sense of connection to my community.”

~ Jennifer, Lava Mae volunteer

While Lava Mae provides critical access to showers and toilets for people experiencing homelessness, our work is about much more. It’s about connection. We reconnect our guests with their sense of self-worth and dignity, and with staff and volunteers who treat them with the utmost care and attention.

Through our volunteer program, we engage individuals from all walks of life to deliver our service. In doing so, we give them the opportunity to connect with our guests and acknowledge and honor their shared humanity. Since launching our service in 2014, we’ve created transformative connections for thousands of guests and volunteers alike.

Lava Mae’s vision for LA2050 is to mobilize 100,000 Angelenos to dramatically expand mobile hygiene across Los Angeles to restore hygiene, dignity and hope to our unhoused neighbors. Here’s how we’ll do it:

  1. Replication. We’ll begin by helping individuals and organizations across LA replicate our service by providing the resources, guidance, and hands-on help they need to launch mobile showers in their communities. The best and strongest services come from the communities where the need exists.

  2. Education. Lava Mae will execute a robust campaign to educate neighborhood groups, schools and universities, businesses, nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, philanthropic organizations, faith-based groups, and other organizations/networks about access to hygiene and its link to dignity/opportunity, with the goal of mobilizing a volunteer force of 100k Angelenos.

  3. Transformation. We’ll also launch a visibility raising campaign to inspire citizens to consider what a shower really means, what it means when you cannot shower, and what they can do to help provide hygiene, dignity, hope and opportunity for their unhoused neighbors.

For example…

The Power of a Shower. Did you shower today? If you’re living on the streets, you probably didn’t. Lava Mae delivers mobile showers to help people experiencing homelessness rekindle dignity and maintain hygiene so they can seek employment and housing. If you can take a shower, you can help give a shower to a neighbor in need. Visit and learn how you can give a shower and the dignity + opportunity that come with being clean.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to connect

  1. Replication. Lava Mae’s Replication Support program will assist communities across LA to bring mobile showers to their neighborhoods through our comprehensive online toolkit, training program, and one-on-one consultations.

  2. Education. Through public meetings, and visits to neighborhood groups, schools and universities, businesses, etc. Lava Mae’s LA team will educate, inspire and invite people to take action by volunteering and engaging 1:1 in the effort to create transformative relationships that heal, seed hope, deliver dignity and make it possible for our houseless neighbors to build the resilience needed to move up and out of homelessness.

  3. Transformation. Through earned media, social media, digital marketing and pro bono partnerships with advertising agencies and PR firms, our “Power of a Shower” campaign will inspire citizens to help give showers to our unhoused neighbors by volunteering in one or more of the following ways:

  • Launch new mobile shower services

  • Volunteer at existing shower sites

  • Organize group volunteer activities

  • Lead volunteer trainings

  • Collect travel-sized toiletries, towels, socks, underwear, clothing and other essentials

  • Assemble and distribute hygiene kits for shower guests

  • Host small fundraisers ($10 provides one shower)

  • Secure in-kind donations (towels, t-shirts, etc)

  • Recruit new volunteers from their personal and professional networks, and through digital organizing and speaking engagements

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

We will define and measure success via engagement, from those providing showers, to those volunteering to support shower service, to our houseless neighbors receiving showers. The success metrics fall into the following areas.

Via our Replication Support Program:

The number of new mobile shower services launched (replicators in LA)

Via Lava Mae education:

Number of public/educational meetings hosted by Lava Mae

Number of volunteers that are inspired to take action as a result of those meetings

Via Lava Mae transformation campaign:

Number of volunteers who are helping to run mobile shower sites, creating hygiene kits, securing in-kind donations and hosting fundraising events

Number of volunteers that are organizing group volunteer activities

Number of volunteers who are recruiting and training new volunteers

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

Five years from now, our highest hope is that homelessness has been dramatically reduced across Los Angeles. But wherever there remains a need for mobile hygiene, Lava Mae will have inspired and supported neighborhoods across LA to bring hygiene, dignity, and opportunity to their unhoused neighbors. Mobile showers will be readily available to people experiencing homelessness in every community where there is a need. Hundreds of thousands of Angelenos will have volunteered to help dramatically expand access to hygiene and other critical services for those living on the streets. Giving hundreds of thousands of citizens meaningful opportunities to connect with their unhoused neighbors, person-to-person, will have shifted perceptions and shattered stereotypes about people who are experiencing homelessness, seeded greater empathy, and galvanized action. And we will have mobilized hundreds of thousands of Angelenos to advocate for more innovative solutions to alleviating Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis.