Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander helped San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission staff debut on Wednesday their second mobile shower unit for the homeless, purchased with donations to a campaign he launched over the holiday season.
"I'm overwhelmed by the incredible outpouring of support for the Mobile Mission campaign," Englander said. "With their donations to the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission, our community has shown that treating our homeless neighbors with compassion and dignity is critical. The new mobile shower unit will expand the Rescue Mission's reach by providing this essential resource to those seeking to put their lives back on the right track."
The first shower unit served roughly 25 percent of the homeless population in the San Fernando Valley, providing around 50 showers a day, Englander said. With the second unit, they'll be able to reach roughly 50 percent of the homeless population, he said.
"Our mobile unit allows us to go into the community and bring resources directly to those in need,'' said Wade Trimmer, director of the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.
Those resources include not just hot showers, but hot meals, clean clothes, hygienic items and resources to combat such issues as addiction.
For Englander, homelessness is an issue that hits close to home. At 11 years old, his family lost its home and Englander became a "couch surfer," he said.
People have a "long story" and series of life events that lead them to homelessness, Englander said. Often, when they have not been able to shower for days, weeks or months on end, they're treated like "animals," sometimes losing hope.
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"Worse than being homeless is being hopeless," he said, stressing the importance of the shower units in providing a little bit of hope to people.
Englander said the goal of the Mobile Mission campaign was to raise $17,000, but more than $25,000 was donated.
He said the campaign was "crowd sourced" because he wanted to involve people in raising the money for the second unit, as opposed to "just placing some phone calls." He thought raising the necessary funds would take a year. Instead, it took four months.
The surplus money collected from the Mobile Mission campaign will go toward providing food and clothes, as well as providing maintenance to the first shower unit and the truck that hauls it, Englander said.