ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A Central Florida non-profit organization is working to stop the spread of coronavirus by driving a mobile shower unit around Orange County.
The Orlando-based non-profit Clean the World received $250,000 in federal coronavirus relief money from Orange County to build the Fresh Start Wash and Wellness Unit.
Amy Armstrong, Clean the World’s director of community engagement, said the unit is outfitted with four shower stalls, a dressing room, and most importantly, fresh water.
“It was a matter of life or death; very important to receive that CARES money to be able to get out to our unsheltered population and be able to save their lives by keeping them healthy.”
Armstrong said the unit is being driven around Orange County and Orlando three to five times a week for homeless people to use. She said traditionally, homeless people do not have access to fresh water and soap but those are crucial in stopping the spread of germs.
“The only answers that we have about [the virus] so far is that soap and washing your hands are vital and they are life-saving,” Armstrong said. “To be able to stop the spread of the Coronavirus we have to be able to keep our most vulnerable and at-risk in our community clean and healthy. If we’re able to stop the risk within that community we’re able to stop the risk throughout the rest of the community.”
Orange County hopes the shower feeds into the larger, long-term goal of getting people off the streets.
“The shower is just the carrot if you will.” Said Donna Wyche, Manager for Mental Health and Homelessness Division in Orange County.
“There’s really a very intentional purpose to Clean the World and showers. It’s relationships. It’s engagement. It’s a caring person that wants to help you navigate and get off the streets.”
Orange County’s website said it received $243 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds that will be distributed back into the community. Wyche said so far, they have spent about $34 million of that money on social services, including homelessness, mental health, food, and employment services for the community.
Clean the World is looking for businesses and organizations to sponsor the mobile shower unit so they can operate it annually. Those interested in learning more can visit Clean the World’s website.