Grant #162

Lava Mae

October 12, 2015

Delivering dignity one shower at a time.

There are currently 6,686 homeless individuals living in San Francisco, and about half of them live on the street. For most of San Francisco’s homeless, access to water and sanitation is extremely limited. In fact, there are only 16 showers available for the 3,500+ unsheltered men, women, and children in the city, so they’re forced to make do with whatever public sink or fountain they can get access to.​​ The United Nations and World Health Organization define access to water and sanitation as a basic human right. Something needed to be done. Driven by a fierce belief that everyone has a right to dignity and self worth, and determined to do something about the lack of showers and sanitation for the homeless, Doniece Sandoval was compelled to start Lava Mae.

Lava Mae converts retired transportation buses into showers and toilets on wheels for those experiencing homelessness. Their mantra? “Delivering dignity, one shower (and toilet) at a time.” The organization believes that everyone has the right to be clean, and with hygiene comes dignity, and with dignity comes opportunity. Since their launch in June of 2014, they have touched the lives of 1,500 homeless San Franciscans. By the end of this year, they will scale from one bus, which at full capacity can offer 12,500 showers/year, to four buses, which ramps that total up to 50,000 showers/year! In 2016, they will launch Lava Mae Global to respond to the hundreds of requests for help from communities across the globe seeking to replicate the service.

The AWB grant will be used to purchase a Briggs & Stratton 30470 generator to boost Lava Mae’s capacity to keep the bus seamlessly powered when in operation.

You can find Lava Mae on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, and Pinterest!

Category: Health, Sanitation



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders