Information about shower bus ribbon-cutting ceremony and fundraisers

Give Someone A Chance co-founders Dick and Hazel Mitchell are planning to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their newly completed shower bus for the homeless from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 16 near the former Sonora Community Hospital on Forest Road.

To cover operational costs estimated at $110,000, the Mitchells and GSAC volunteers will host a series of fundraisers hosted throughout the year beginning in April. Here’s the current schedule of events where people can get a look inside the bus:

• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 6, Save Mart at 1045 Mono Way in Sonora.

• 8:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., April 8, Sierra Bible Church at 15171 Tuolumne Road in East Sonora.

• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 13, Junction Shopping Center at 13775 Mono Way in East Sonora.

• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 20, Walmart parking lot at 1101 Sanguinetti Road in Sonora.

The Mitchells will also host an ice-cream social in the Promiseland building at Sierra Bible Church from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., April 9, to educate people about homelessness.

At all of the events, tickets will be on sale to GSAC’s third annual “Italian Nights” spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., May 5, at the Elks Lodge in Sonora

The event will include live music from the Rusty Rockers.

Tickets are $30 each and proceeds will go to the operation of the shower bus.

For more information on how to donate, volunteer, or to request a presentation on GSAC’s work, contact the organization at or (209) 206-8065.

A Jamestown couple didn’t let naysayers or a lack of government support stop them from their goal of providing a way for Tuolumne County’s homeless to stay clean and healthy.

Dick and Hazel Mitchell are preparing to unveil their newly completed shower bus later this month after working on the project over the past year with a team of volunteers.

Hazel Mitchell said she hopes the mobile showers will also provide the homeless with a renewed sense of dignity.

“They’re not only going to get a shower, they’re going to get love,” the 76-year-old retired nurse said.

The project was made possible through the couple’s nonprofit organization, Give Someone A Chance.

Since 2013, the organization has provided help to the homeless population with services that include transportation, navigating the complex web of social services available to them, and aid for homeless veterans.

There were more than 700 people in the county who said they were homeless in late September, according to a survey coordinated by the Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency.

Most surveys conducted during the month of January in past years never counted more than 200 people.

About 250 of those counted in the latest survey stated they were living outdoors, while about 25 percent of the total population were under the age of 18.

There are currently three places in the county that provide showers: Interfaith Community Social Services in East Sonora, the Tuolumne County Behavioral Health Enrichment Center in downtown Sonora, and the First Presbyterian Church of the 49ers in Columbia.

In 2015, the Mother Lode Fair Board of Directors denied the Mitchells’ request to use the livestock showers at the fairgrounds in Sonora for their homeless clients.

The Mitchells later heard about a group in Modesto that converted a bus into mobile showers for the homeless and thought they could do the same with an old bus that was donated to them by the county government.

A design team of volunteers with varied professional backgrounds helped the couple turn their vision into a reality. Members of the team included Donald Ronalter, Roger Lindahn, Craig Hempler, Danny Murphy, David Fichter, Harold Mullins and Jim Caywood.

There was also a number of individuals and businesses that contributed cash or materials, including Cinokete RV if Sibiram Slakey Brothers Plumbing and HVAC Supply, Sonora Lumber, Central Heat and Air, JS West Propane, and EZ Tankless Water Heaters.

Dick Mitchell, a retired engineer, said he views the bus as an opportunity to help some people who are homeless reintegrate into society.

“I think this is a stepping stone and a sign that society is doing something for them,” he said.

The outside of the bus was recently painted blue by Ric Bacon’s Customs and Collision, while the interior was coated entirely with a protective liner typically used in truck beds to make it waterproof.

There are some finishing touches still left to be done, such as signage, though the couple expects it to be ready in time for a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled to take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on March 16 near the former Sonora Community Hospital on Forest Road.

Sonora Mayor Connie Williams, District 2 County Supervisor Randy Hanvelt and representative Republican U.S. Rep Tom McClintock are planning to attend the ceremony.

The Mitchells anticipate having the bus on the road and providing showers in April.

They are planning to launch the bus at one location to start with, but they eventually plan to have it running on a daily rotating schedule at three to four locations in Jamestown, Tuolumne and Sonora.

Each person who uses the showers will also be given free pairs of underwear, socks, and personal hygiene products.

The Mitchells anticipate launching the bus with volunteer drivers until they get enough money together to hire two employees.

Fundraising events where people can get a peek inside of the bus are planned throughout the month of April (see schedule in box). The Mitchells will also host their third annual “Italian Nights” spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the Elks Lodge in Sonora on May 5, with all proceeds going to the operation of the bus.

Hazel Mitchell also said donations of men’s and women’s underwear, socks, and feminine hygiene products will also help bring down their overhead costs.

“We don’t want the community to think we’re asking them to foot the whole bill, but we’re trying to help and whatever they can donate is just amazing,” she said.

Contact Alex MacLean at or (209) 588-4530.