HANAPEPE — Access to free, hot showers is now available at the remaining open county-beach parks on a rotating basis for the houseless community thanks to Project Vision Hawai‘i.
The mobile hygiene shower facility, known as Project HiEHiE, is home to two showers and bathrooms, which also offer soap, shampoo and conditioner, as well as a towel and washcloth. The showers will be cleaned after each individual use.
Project Vision Hawai‘i, a state-wide nonprofit with an office on Kaua‘i, provides services to the houseless community. The nonprofit launched the first HiEHiE Mobile Hygiene Center in 2018 on O‘ahu, and has expanded to Hawai‘i Island, and finally on Kaua‘i last week.
“This is for those who don’t have the luxury to turn a knob,” Grace Meek, Kaua‘i Community Health Coordinator, said during a blessing for the shower at Salt Pond Beach Park on April 9.
The shower was funded with $100,000 from county Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act money. A special allocation of $541,000 of the county’s Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus funds was awarded to the nonprofit to purchase a truck to tow the uni, and cover operating expenses that will provide health and social services with other community partners. These services for the houseless community include first-aid, wellness checks, document procurement assistance, Medicaid registration, and more, according to a county press release.
Among partners include Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, the Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office and the county’s Housing Agency.
“Access to basic hygiene and healthcare should be available to everyone, and that’s now a wonderful and humbling reality here on Kaua‘i,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said in a press release. “The power of a hot shower can renew your spirit, and I know many of us can relate to that. We are so grateful to the team at Project Vision Hawai‘i and our Housing Agency for providing this shower unit and for your efforts to serve and care for our houseless community.”
During the blessing, guests expressed the project will bring peace, love and compassion to the community.
“The people who receive this service will feel open-hearted after,” Meek said.
On O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island, the nonprofit has already provided over 3,500 hot showers to the houseless community, according to a press release.
The mobile shower can hook onto a pick-up truck to be moved to other locations. A schedule is forthcoming, but Project Vision hopes to rove from the open county beach parks providing this service.
“People come up and they’re smiling,” Driver Raymond Rapozo said Friday.