SOS! Richmond brings ‘Shower Power’ to people facing homelessness

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SOS! Richmond brings ‘Shower Power’ to people facing homelessness
Image of mobile showers courtesy of Safe Organized Spaces (SOS).

By Kathy Chouteau

A local organization is bringing “Shower Power” to the people, specifically those facing homelessness in Richmond. As part of its efforts, Safe Organized Spaces (SOS!) Richmond is deploying three-unit mobile shower trailers to sites throughout the city to help support good hygiene among local encampment dwellers.

A $20,000 donation from Chevron Richmond empowered SOS! Richmond to purchase two three-unit mobile shower trailers and get its program rolling. But to keep its expanding Shower Power initiative moving forward, the organization is currently seeking support in the form of volunteers, donations and host site locations.

This week and beyond, Shower Power is heading to the Bay Area Rescue Mission on Macdonald Ave. & Second St. Wednesdays from 12-3 p.m.; 3M Mom, Pop & Sons Market on Fred Jackson Way & Vernon Ave. Thursdays from 1-4 p.m.; and GRIP Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a location they’ve been visiting over the last two months. Ultimately, SOS! Richmond aims to increase its efforts to visit 10-12 locations per week, according to Director Daniel Barth.

“The whole point of SOS! Richmond is that we’re creating a community organizing network [that partners] with housed and unsheltered neighbors,” said Barth. 

This community organizing network includes volunteers that the organization currently needs to help stage mobile shower unit events and welcome tables, as well as other key onsite tasks. Hygiene supplies from the Dollar Store (see picture) are also needed, including toothbrushes, razors, latex gloves, masks, etc. via financial donations or item drop-offs. Barth also said SOS! Richmond’s Shower Power initiative is seeking volunteers who can help wash/dry towels at their homes on a regular basis, as well as perform outreach to potential shower hosts—i.e., locations with electricity, water and greywater drainage that can be mobile shower unit sites.

Image of personal supplies courtesy of Safe Organized Spaces.

Some of the Richmond areas near homeless encampments where Shower Power hosts are needed include: Rydin Rd. at Point Isabel; Bayview Exit at Carlson Blvd.; Macdonald Ave. & San Pablo Ave. Harbour Way Exit/I-580; Point Richmond near Chevron; Brookside Dr. near both Rumrill Blvd. and 23rd St. (San Pablo); Near Parr Blvd. in Richmond; and the Parkchester neighborhood.

SOS! Richmond’s Shower Power initiative has been made possible thanks to financial support from Chevron Richmond, the City of Richmond, Groundwork Richmond and other community supporters. Per Barth, fiscal sponsors of the project include Richmond Friends of Recreation and TentMakers.

Aside from offering mobile hygiene, Shower Power delivers water for safe drinking and washing directly to encampments where access is currently lacking.

To support the organization with a donation, find them on Venmo at @SOS_Richmond. For more info, or to volunteer, contact Director Daniel Barth at 510-990-2686 or [email protected] or click here.