Designed to serve homeless men, women and families, Project WeHOPE’s Dignity on Wheels mobile showers, washers and dryers have been called into emergency action for both U.S. National Guard soldiers proving essential support to the communities affected by the wildfires in Sonoma County and people who were already homeless and were displaced by the fire. We were initially called into action by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department and are now also working closely with the Red Cross, Salvation Army, National Guard and faith-based community to serve men, women and children who were homeless even before the fire.
Our initial service was on Sunday, October 15, when we dispatched one of our two Dignity on Wheels truck/trailers from our offices in East Palo Alto to serve the men and women of the National Guard who supported evacuations, and are now securing evacuated areas, directing traffic, providing security to shelters and delivering supplies. Joe Harper, Facilities and Fleet Manager at Project WeHOPE and a U.S. Army veteran, drove the rig 87 miles north to a temporary rescue camp for the National Guard in Santa Rosa, on a lot owned by Ghilotti Construction Co. at Todd Road and 101 Fwy in Santa Rosa.
From 1 p.m. through midnight, 45 of the National Guard rescue workers were able to take showers and have their clothing washed during their 12-hour “off” shifts. There were still dozens of other soldiers out in the field working their 12-hours shifts. Many of the soldiers had only two sets of clothes because they were told that they would need to be deployed only for a couple of days. Given the severity of the fires, many are expected to remain for several more days. We are continuing to work closely with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department to schedule more sessions for the rescue crews and law enforcement to occur today as well as later in the week.
In addition, Project WeHOPE President Paul Bains was contacted by members of the faith-based community in Sonoma County who expressed concerns about the needs of people who were already homeless and were displaced by the fires. Paul drove to Santa Rosa yesterday, Monday, October 16, and has since been in constant contact with the Sonoma County Red Cross to schedule showers and laundry services for those men, women and children in the community for both today and later in the week.
Dignity on Wheels will be helping the homeless at an encampment today starting around 4:30-5 PM at 6th Street and Davis Street in Santa Rosa. We also hope to provided shower and laundry services at the Sebastopol Community Center to help rescue crews who have been working 12-hour shifts fighting fires. Locations for later this week are still being confirmed, but we do expect to continue providing aid where the demand is the greatest.
To the extent possible, we are maintaining the regular weekly schedule for our two Dignity on Wheels units that serve homeless clients in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda and San Francisco counties, while adding service on an emergency basis to firefighters, public safety officials including the National Guard, and displaced homeless men, women and families in Sonoma County.
If you would like to contribute to Dignity on Wheels helping in Santa Rosa, please visit our Dignity on Wheels page. We need funds to pay for operations as well as fuel and cleaning supplies.
For Media Contact: Cynthia Corpuz, firstname.lastname@example.org