Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Politics & Govt
Published on May 19, 2017
Civic Center 'Day of Dignity' To Provide Essential Services For The Homeless Next TuesdayProject Homeless Connect team in front of the new CareVan. | Photo: Teresa Hammerl/Hoodline

On Tuesday, San Francisco-based nonprofits Lava Mae and Project Homeless Connect (PHC) will host a "Day of Dignity" to bring essential services for those who experience homelessness in the city.

Taking place in front of the SF Public Library from 9:45am to 2pm, the event will bring together nonprofits, businesses, and volunteers to provide hundreds of homeless residents with services like showers (Lava Mae), hygiene kits (Simply the Basics), clothing (Street Store), meals (RePlate), dental care (Studio Dental), music (Singers on the Street) or haircuts.

The day will also see the debut of a new van to provide better mobile services for the homeless.


"Being mobile gives us the ability to go where people are," PHC deputy director Tawny Bailey  explained.

The five-passenger CareVan will be equipped with supplies for pop-up service events. That will allow PHC director of services Solange Bonilla-Leahy and her daily services team to travel and serve the homeless population, one that is also an aging community.

"We are really excited that the van can go with other mobile units out in the community," said Bailey. "The van will have lots of different-sized lockable drawers. We will also have the ability to have electricity, so we are going to be able to do a number of things with the van."

Pop-up village organizer Lava Mae started with converting public transportation buses into showers and toilets on wheels. Today, the nonprofit operates five shower trailers with three stalls each, towed by heavy-duty pickup trucks. 

"We serve around 300 guests at every Pop-Up Care Village," said Care Village director Paul Asplund.

Simply the Basics founder Meghan Freebeck (right). | Photo: Simply the Basics/Facebook

Folks will also be able to pick up free items to stay clean on the streets.

"We will have a table, or 'market', where guests can fill reusable tote bags with everything they need, from socks to deodorant, bus passes, shampoo, new bras, lotion, and more," Simply the Basics founder Meghan Freebeck explains.

Simply the Basics will also ensure that their table is staffed with volunteers trained in providing emotional support and crisis care. "We never want to assume what someone needs, and events like this allow people to choose their most needed items with additional support and care," Freebeck said.

Lava Mae founder and CEO Doniece Sandoval (right). | PHOTO: COURTESY OF LAVA MAE

While cleanliness is an important part of the services that the Day of Dignity will offer, another critical service available is dental care.

"Losing teeth often means losing opportunities and dental health is central to overall physical health and comfort," Asplund explains. "Access to health insurance is another huge hurdle, and we’re actively seeking partnerships to help our guests get regular medical care."

Asplund also points out that Lava Mae recently started working with a local university to bring nursing students to events in order to provide triage and assist guests with medical referrals.

Lava Mae and PHC are still seeking volunteers, financial support and in-kind donations for the Day of Dignity. To learn more, check out or