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United Way pushes to help more homeless stay safe during COVID-19 pandemic

MOBILE SHOWER UNITS
PATRICIA MARTELLOTTI

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Cameron Lane just took his first hot shower in a week.

"Oh it feels wonderful. I’m so thankful to Dorothy at United Way."

Lane is one of many homeless people now getting a regular hot shower in these mobile units set up by the United Way and other groups.

Before the pandemic, four people a day got showers.  Now it's 25.

"They all need showers and we want to make sure that we can provide showers for all the homeless in Santa Maria at this time," said Carmen Sampson with United Way.

And it's more than just a chance to get clean.

Agencies are supplying food, clean clothes and personal hygiene kits.

"We have wash stations up to wash their hands and we provide water and hand sanitizers," said Sampson.

In addition to the mobile shower units the agencies are also offering face masks to those in need.

Mary Jane Zaffuto used to be homeless.

Now she’s working with United way.

She’s trying to educate the homeless about the pandemic. "I try to encourage them to make sure they wear a mask because either they don’t have one or I say it’s very important that you protect yourself and others."

Lane depends on the mobile shower unit every week, and says he's taking the pandemic seriously. "It’s essential. I try to keep hand sanitizers around me all the time as well or at least cologne or whenever I get my hands on the stove like myself every day all day long."

As the need for homeless services grows during the pandemic, United Way is now pushing to expand services on the northside of Santa Maria.

California / Community / Coronavirus / Health / Lifestyle / Safety / Santa Maria - North County / Video

Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martelotti is a reporter at KEYT|KCOY|KKFX.