Spotlight on Innovation: The Lava Mae X Pandemic Pivot

LavaMaex is a nonprofit that teaches people anywhere how to bring mobile showers and other essential care services to the street, where our unhoused neighbors need them most. While providing its consulting services, LavaMaex also brings weekly mobile showers and other care services to the streets of San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles. When those activities became unsafe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization was able to leverage its network and resources in creative ways. We think it’s a powerful example of pivoting during a challenging time.

In 2017, Bradac Co, along with other industry partners, donated time, expertise and materials to help LavaMaex build its first  office. As long-time fans of the organization, we’d like to help spread the word regarding the group’s recent activities.

Along with mobile showers, LavaMaehosts Pop-Up Care Villages that brings dozens of partners to the street to provide haircuts, medical care, legal advice, employment assistance and more. Unfortunately, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of 2020, LavaMaex was forced to suspend these services, as it wasn’t safe to host large groups, and the organization couldn’t secure proper PPE.

Recognizing that hand washing is an essential way to prevent the spread of COVID, LavaMaex saw an opportunity to bring access to this crucial, but simple, sanitation need to those without access to running water. The organization focused on developing a DIY handwashing station and toolkit that could be made widely and easily available. Having heard that students at USC had created a handwashing station out of a trash can, LavaMaex was inspired to create a station that people anywhere would be able to construct, deploy and maintain on their own.

To date, LavaMaex, has built and supported over 640 DIY handwashing stations in 14 communities, with a majority being deployed to Indiginous families in the Navajo and Hopi nations by Red Feather Development Group, that have provided over one million handwashes. Along with its DIY handwashing stations, LavaMaex delivered more than 8,000 COVID-19 hygiene kits to more than 35 locations, including shelters and encampments, across three major cities. And after updating its protocols for COVID-19 safety and purchasing PPE gear, it has relaunched its shower services and Pop-Up Care Villages in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

We applaud LavaMaex for its creative and nimble response and the positive impact that the organization has in our communities.  

To find out more about LavaMaex or donate your time to help its cause, please visit lavamae.org.