Terence Lester is placing portable sinks with soap and water around Atlanta where the homeless congregate.
“All the news reports are saying wash your hands,” Lester told CNN. “But the homeless population often can’t.”
Lester knows the challenges of living on the streets. He was homeless as a teenager and he is currently the executive director of the nonprofit Love Beyond Walls, which is dedicated to helping the homeless. But the difficulties the homeless now face with this pandemic are hard for him to fathom.
“I was trying to think of how they will survive,” Lester said. “How can they get through this when they can’t even wash their hands? So, I decided to start there.”
He found a solution with portable washbasins that are sold for RVs and camping. These sinks have a foot pump to bring water from a 5-gallon tank to the faucet. A soap dispenser is built into each station.
An immediate reaction
Before Lester could finish assembling the first sink, the proof of its need walked right up to him.
“Dimitry lives on the streets around our center, and he came up and asked if he could wash his hands,” explained Lester. “He hadn’t washed them yet because he hadn’t had any water.”
“You have to wash your hands; if you don’t, you are going to get sick.” Dimitry said in a video. “If you touch anything, then wash your hands.”
A helpful hand and a plan to expand
Grammy-winning artist Lecrae and Reach Records are providing the first 15 portable sinks. Lecrae joined Lester to help assemble the sinks and place them around Atlanta.
“It is encouraging to me that someone like him and the platform he has, that he is willing to roll up his sleeves and serve alongside you,” Lester told CNN.
The Love Beyond Walls team picks up the sinks daily to clean them and refill each unit with water and soap. The nonprofit is raising money to place more sinks in the city and to ship them across state lines to other homeless communities.
“I hope this catches on and spreads across the country,” Lester shared. “Even more than that, these sinks can spark the conversation of what else we can do to help the homeless facing this pandemic.”