Mobile Hygiene Volunteer
Join Lava Mae in taking Radical Hospitality™ to the streets, as we deliver mobile showers to help our unhoused neighbors rekindle dignity, restore hope and unlock the opportunity that comes with being clean.
Lava Mae brings critical services to the streets – delivered with an unexpected level of care we call Radical Hospitality™ – to rekindle dignity and hope for people experiencing homelessness through our Mobile Hygiene Service, Pop-Up Care Villages and buildIt toolkit.
Our work is rooted in three core principles:
Humanity - Opportunity unfolds when people are treated with dignity, and everyone rises to the level of care they’re provided.
Innovation - We pilot, test, and refine new programs, and share what we’ve learned with the world.
Collaboration - We forge creative partnerships across sectors to radically increase access to services and better meet our guests’ needs.
Founded by Doniece Sandoval in 2013, Lava Mae began by converting public transportation buses into showers and toilets on wheels to deliver hygiene and rekindle dignity for our unhoused neighbors in San Francisco.
Today, we’re taking Radical Hospitality™ to the streets by bringing critical services to help people experiencing homelessness persevere in seeking employment and housing.
Lava Mae has served 15,000+ guests who have taken 52,000+ showers on our mobile units across Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and innovated one-stop Pop-Up Care Villages to dramatically expand access to essential services for people living on the streets. We’ve also inspired 100+ new mobile hygiene programs across the U.S. and around the world, and launched the first-ever open source toolkit + platform to help people everywhere replicate our mobile hygiene service in their own communities.
Volunteer Roles and Responsibilities:
When you volunteer with our mobile hygiene service, you will play a vital role in helping our shower guests feel welcome, seen, and valued. Working alongside our team, you will greet guests, chat with them while they await their shower appointment, provide fresh towels and hygiene items, and clean shower stalls for the next guest.
What to Expect:
This is an individual volunteer opportunity with a maximum of 2 volunteers per shift. We ask volunteers to please stay for a minimum of two hours. When you arrive, Lava Mae’s Mobile Service Coordinators will provide a short orientation. Volunteering at our mobile hygiene service is a unique opportunity to get to know our grateful guests. We encourage you to be curious, ask questions, and treat every guest with an unexpected level of care we call Radical Hospitality™.
As a volunteer, you represent Lava Mae. We expect you to act in a manner that is professional and consistent with the principles of Radical Hospitality.
Please keep the following in mind:
• Come prepared and ready to work for the duration of your shift, including reading information about the site and your role prior to volunteering.
• Be willing to engage in healthy dialogue with our guests. 80% of our work involves actively participating in meaningful conversations with our guests.
• Be mindful of personal biases and opinions when engaging in conversations with our guests.
• Avoid conversations about sensitive or controversial subjects with our guests.
• Ask for help or clarification about your role if unsure about your assigned tasks.
• Redirect questions and inquiries to Lava Mae staff.
• Must be 18+ years or accompanied by parent/guardian.
Treating our Guests with Dignity Volunteer Expectations:
Acceptance of Identity - Approach people as equals; neither inferior nor superior to you
Acknowledgement - Give people your full attention
Inclusion - Make them feel they belong
Understanding - Believe what other people think matters
Safety - Put people at ease both physically and emotionally
Accountability - If you have violated the dignity of another person, apologize
Fairness - Treat people justly, with equality, and in an evenhanded way according to agreed upon rules
Homelessness is an issue that continues to be highly stigmatized — resulting in many misconceptions about the people we serve. Homelessness is not always a choice. Our guests experience homelessness for varying reasons, some of which are due to extenuating circumstances beyond their control.
Feelings of fear, loneliness, and rejection isolate our guests from feelings of trust, security, and hope. Dignity and respect are elusive. Despair and defeat are reality. Many of our guests struggle with cooccurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. Furthermore, the lack of medical and housing resources exacerbates the psychological, emotional, and physical stress that our guests endure in their daily lives.
Below is a list of exceptional behaviors or situations that you may encounter while volunteering with Lava Mae:
• Rude, intrusive, and/or inappropriate language
• Derogatory comments about race, gender, and/or sexual orientation
• Physical and/or verbal aggression
• Destruction of property
• Asking for money or favors
• Drug and/or alcohol use onsite
• Responding to internal stimuli such as auditory and/or visual hallucinations
• Guests in physical and/or emotional distress; requiring immediate medical attention or intervention
Managing Guest Behaviors:
Below are some useful tips for managing challenging behaviors and for crisis prevention:
• Recognize signs of distress such as pacing and/or bizarre behavior
• Refrain from using patronizing language or condescending tones
• Ignore challenging questions. Do not argue or engage in power struggles
Emergency Policy & Procedures
Safety is our top priority! Our onsite staff is trained to handle these situations.
If you are feeling unsafe or concerned about a particular guest, please let one of our onsite staff know immediately.
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Los Angeles, CA