Event offers mobile showers, haircuts to homeless


During South by Southwest, pop-up events from surf simulators to a replica “Twin Peaks” diner will take over downtown Austin. But on Saturday, there’ll be a different kind of pop-up event on Red River Street focused on helping Austin’s homeless youths.

The Pop-Up Care Village, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will offer services to the city’s homeless population, including mobile showers, haircuts, free clothing, food and resource referrals provided by several Austin vendors. Although the event is focused on youths experiencing homelessness, organizers said, no one seeking assistance will be denied services.

Everyone comes to Austin to show off during South by Southwest, said Leo Ramirez, CEO and founder of Encast Inc., a local charitable giving startup. But it wants to show that there’s a vulnerable population that needs help and that there are ways to make a difference, he said.

Encast has partnered with San Francisco-based nonprofit Lava Mae, which launched its mobile hygiene service about three years ago when it began converting public transportation buses into mobile showers for homeless people. Since then, Lava Mae has created pop-up events with other nonprofits that expand beyond mobile showers to include a variety of services. Saturday will be the first time Lava Mae will offer the pop-up event outside of California.

“Homelessness destroys people’s sense of dignity and self-worth,” said Doniece Sandoval, founder and CEO of Lava Mae. “With hygiene comes dignity and with dignity comes opportunity.”

The Rio Grande Valley native said bringing the event to Austin will hopefully inspire others to help create change for the city’s young homeless population.

This year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded Austin a $5.2 million grant to tackle youth homelessness. In Travis County, more than 2,000 students experienced homelessness during the 2015-16 school year, according to a 2016 report compiled by the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition.

On Friday, another event drew attention to the homelessness issue. Nearly 200 Mobile Loaves & Fishes volunteers, homeless people and formerly homeless men and women carried signs in downtown Austin proclaiming “Welcome Homeless.” The signs were a nod to a new book by Mobile Loaves & Fishes founder Alan Graham.

In an effort to bring more visibility to social impact, Ramirez will be moderating a SXSW panel called “Shut Up and Do Something” at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the J.W. Marriott, rooms 201 and 202. The panel, which requires a festival badge, features community leaders, like Sandoval, who have turned ideas into action.

Other panelists include 17-year-old Rachel Parent of Canada, who is the founder and director of Kids Right to Know. The nonprofit focuses on educating youths about food safety. Parent has met with Canada’s former prime minister and health minister to discuss the group’s concerns. She’s also a blogger for the Huffington Post and was named Woman of the Year by Elle magazine Quebec.

Actor Danny Pintauro, best known for his role as Jonathan Bower on the TV show “Who’s the Boss?,” will also be featured on the panel. Pintauro has become an activist after revealing that he’s HIV positive and has battled a meth addiction. He’s now an ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

“We hope people walk away inspired,” Ramirez said. “We want this to motivate attendees to pursue a movement of their own.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Truck driver dead after 2 18-wheelers crash in Smithville, police say

SMITHVILLE Man dead after 18-wheelers crash The driver of an 18-wheeler died Thursday after his vehicle collided with another trailer truck on Texas 71 near Hill Road in Smithville. The other driver was treated at the scene and is OK, Smithville police said. Both vehicles were gravel trucks. The crash happened around 2:50 p.m. The first gravel truck...
House passes tree bill decried as ‘a poke in the eye of the governor’
House passes tree bill decried as ‘a poke in the eye of the governor’

Texas House members gave preliminary approval Thursday to an appropriations bill and measures to lower homeowner fees for tree removal and more strictly report abortion complications — all as discontent grew among conservative members claiming moderate roadblocks to their agenda. House Bill 7, which received preliminary approval in a 132-11 vote...
$2 million grant to expand affordable living community for homeless
$2 million grant to expand affordable living community for homeless

An affordable housing development operated by the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes has received a $2 million grant from the Downtown Austin Alliance that will go toward expanding the Community First Village and housing an additional 400 homeless people, the groups said Thursday. The grant represents the Downtown Alliance’s largest gift...
Leander woman grateful her two cats rescued from house fire
Leander woman grateful her two cats rescued from house fire

Jaime Telfeyan was still waiting Thursday to find out from her insurance company if her Leander home was a total loss from the fire caused by a lightning strike this week. But she was grateful too, she said. Firefighters rescued her 2-month old kitten, named Rainbow Cupcake, and her 2-year-old cat, Mr. Butterworth, from the fire Monday at her home...
UPDATE: Manor brush fire contained
UPDATE: Manor brush fire contained

7 p.m. update: Firefighters have contained a 35-acre brush fire east of Manor, fire officials said. Crews are still working to extinguish small fires in the contained area, Manor fire officials said. No structures have been effected. A helicopter is dumping water on the area, and a second helicopter is surveying the area from the sky, officials said...
More Stories