LavaMae A Model of Radical Hospitality
LavaMaeˣ provides free resources, including mobile shower, Pop-Up Care Village, and handwashing station toolkits, at LavaMaeˣ Connect, a global community space where people bringing essential care services to the street can access online training, solve problems, and share innovations. LavaMae also offers one-on-one training on program operations such as trailer purchasing, budgeting, Radical Hospitality®, and much more!
LavaMaeˣ introduced this concept, calling it Radical Hospitality®, in 2014 in San Francisco. In 2019, the nonprofit began formally teaching and funding grassroots groups to bring its model of mobile showers and other essential care services to their own communities. The network of LavaMaeˣ-trained providers has grown rapidly throughout the pandemic, with 26 shower programs across the U.S. launching in the past two and half years.
These programs are a lifeline for unhoused people. To date they’ve provided 54,100 showers to 24,253 people. Some also have deployed handwashing stations—a DIY design LavaMaeˣ developed in response to pandemic conditions—and many work with partners to provide food and other services, such as laundry, haircuts, clean clothes, and access to job search and medical services, at their shower sites.
The difference this makes is profound—in the words of LavaMaeˣ guests: “It feels like you matter; you can come back and be successful.” “I walk down the streets with my head held high.” “When things seem impossible, there’s always tomorrow for a shower.”
LavaMaeˣ consulting and seed funding spread impact across America
While continuing to serve people on the streets of Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, LavaMaeˣ has built a consulting program that guides shower startups through everything from wrangling city permits to outfitting a shower trailer to serving guests with Radical Hospitality and adeptly managing the challenges of street service. Through its partnership with Unilever’s The Right to Shower brand, LavaMaeˣ also supplies small amounts of funding.
Some mobile shower services begin with inspired individuals, some grow out of established volunteer groups, and others are projects of full-fledged community nonprofits. A few examples include Streetside Showers (Texas and Florida), Brooklyn Community Services (New York), and S.H.A.R.E. Community (Antioch, California).
Scaling care with dignity: Radical Hospitality resonates around the world
LavaMaeˣ has devoted about 17,000 hours of staff time to helping community leaders like these launch and expand. The nonprofit’s experts often counsel fledgling providers for a year or more through an intensive one-on-one mentorship program. In addition, its free online platform, LavaMaeˣ Connect, provides a hub where a much broader community—more than 1,400 people—accesses online training and DIY tool kits, solves problems, shares innovations, and finds local partners.
Learn more about how LavaMaeˣ is scaling its model at www.lavamaex.org.