AUSTIN, Texas — During the global coronavirus pandemic, an Austin nonprofit is helping provide resources to people experiencing homelessness.
The Other Ones Foundation (TOOF) created a mobile hygiene clinic that provides basic necessities for people.
"We of course deal with a population that can't stay home and has a very difficult time accessing those very basic hygiene supplies," said Chris Baker, the executive director of TOOF.
The clinic includes two bathrooms equipped with a shower, sink and toilet. Volunteers also hand out hygiene products including soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, as well as harm reduction supplies.
In addition, TOOF partnered with Mobile Loaves and Fishes to provide meals and groceries.
Since the clinic opened on March 21, the nonprofit has served 700 meals and offered 342 showers in its first week of operations, according to Max Moscoe, the community engagement coordinator.
"I think it's important to keep the most vulnerable out here in mind as we are kind of navigating through this new world we are living in," Baker said.
While many people are experiencing crisis for the first time, Baker said people living on the streets are in a constant state of crisis, so they may be less reactive to this crisis.
"Is there concern? Absolutely. Has it risen to the level the rest of us are feeling? I don’t think that it has and I think that speaks volumes about the experience living on the street," Baker said.
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The mobile hygiene clinic will operate at different locations seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
These locations include:
- Monday - Sunrise Church (4430 Menchaca Road)
- Tuesday - First Baptist Church surface parking lot (901 Trinity St.)
- Wednesday - Southeast corner of Interstate Highway 35 and Cesar Chavez Street
- Thursday - Under I-35, directly across the service road from Community Care
- Friday - TBD
- Saturday and Sunday - Camp RATT (780 and U.S. Highway 183)
As a precaution to prevent the spread of the virus, staff disinfects the bathrooms between each use.
Once the pandemic is over, Baker said he plans to keep operating the mobile clinic for the community to use.
"We have been working around the clock as this thing develops in trying to do things as fluid as possible," Baker said. "We saw a need. The need was for hygiene in the community."
As the program kicks off, the nonprofit is asking for the public's help to donate hygiene items including soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, toilet paper, socks, underwear, hand sanitizer, tents and non-perishable food.
For donors who do not want to make a trip to the store, many of these items are selected and ready to be purchased on an Amazon wishlist, which can be found here.
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