Showering Loveby Tony Bara
Saniflo Pumps Help Nonprofit “Shower Love” on the Homeless
Saniflo Showers Love on Homeless
Many homeless individuals struggle to improve their lives due to limited personal hygiene, which can hamper their confidence and impressions they make on others, like potential employers.
Florida resident Jeanne Lewis founded Showering Love, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring dignity and hope to those most in need.
“Imagine you’ve just mowed the lawn in the hot sun, or finished a heavy workout,” begins Lewis. “Now imagine that after all that hot, dirty, sweaty work, you’re unable to take a shower for weeks or months. That’s a reality many homeless people face.”
Lewis speaks from personal experience. She spent roughly a decade on the street herself. “One of the worst things about homelessness was that feeling of being dirty all time,” she recalls. “It destroys your personal dignity, self-esteem and sometimes even your will to live.”
Lewis’ vision for restoring hope to the hopeless took physical form when, thanks to general financial donations from like-minded individuals, she was able to purchase a bus to be converted into a mobile shower station. “It was amazing. We raised the money in only three weeks,” she says.
Afterward, the hard work began of gutting the bus to add showers and toilets, which would become available, free of charge, to those in need. Rowdy Gifford, a master plumber with more than 20 years’ experience and the Licensed Inspector and Plans Examiner for the city of Parkland, Fla., planned and executed the bus’s plumbing.
“We wanted to make the bus totally self-sufficient from a plumbing standpoint,” explains Gifford. To that end, one freshwater tank and one black water tank was installed in the back. Two bathrooms were planned in the 8-foot by 30-foot bus—a handicap facility in the center of the bus and a second space for general use in the front, behind the driver’s seat.
“The challenge lay in moving the water from the bathrooms, across the bus, to the storage tank,” continues Gifford. “Penetrating the bus floor wasn’t practical, due to limited space. We needed a smarter solution.”
Pumping it Out
After conducting some internet research, Gifford discovered Saniflo above-floor plumbing technology. Designed for a host of residential and commercial applications, above-floor plumbing systems macerate (or grind) waste into a slurry before pumping it horizontally and/or vertically through a small-diameter drain line into a septic or sewer system—or, in this case, a storage tank.
“I had never heard of this option before, but it struck me as the perfect solution,” recalls Gifford. “The pump eliminated the need to tear up the floor and allowed the piping to be run along the side wall.”
Saniflo donated two Sanibest Pro units to the humanitarian project, which were distributed by Ferguson. Unlike standard macerators, the Sanibest Pro comes equipped with a heavy-duty grinder that can easily handle the accidental flushing of sanitary articles, such as feminine products, baby wipes, dental floss, condoms, etc. The pump discharges waste up to 25 vertical feet and/or 150 horizontal feet.
“The heavy-duty grinders are perhaps the most crucial, well-performing elements of the entire project. In hindsight, there’s so many applications where I would have used these pumps in the past, had I known about them.”
With a viable plumbing system installed, the Showering Love bus will be driven to various locations, especially churches, throughout Florida to provide showers and other services to the homeless. With the current setup, the bus can handle up to 40 showers before the tank reaches capacity.
Lewis hopes this prototype becomes a launching pad to create a fleet of buses eventually, meeting not only homeless individual’s showering needs, but also providing them with laundry services, shoe donations and other essentials that will help in the job hunt.