Union Democrat staff

The Sonora Area Foundation on Tuesday gave Give Someone A Chance $8,000 to allow the organization to offer showers to children 18 and younger.

Give Someone A Chance, which works with homeless people, converted an old bus donated by the Tuolumne County Transportation Council into mobile showers with two stalls.

Hazel Mitchell, who with her husband, Dick, started Give Someone a Chance in 2010, said they expect to provide the first shower in about a week. The project was delayed due to a malfunctioning on-demand water heater.

The grant from the Sonora Area Foundation is welcome, she said, because of the large number of homeless children in Tuolumne County.

A survey conducted last September by the Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency found 711 people who were homeless and 177 were younger than 18.

Darrell Slocum, executive director of Sonora Area Foundation, said the foundation also gave an unsolicited $2,500 grant to the organization to support the shower bus program.

Hazel Mitchell said she had applied to the foundation for two much larger grants to go toward building a shelter and also for building yurts for homeless veterans on land she and her husband owned off Tuolumne Road. Neither project came to fruition and the Mitchells sold the property.

Hazel Mitchell said at least $85,000 will be needed to operate the bus in the first year and up to about $110,000 per year at full staffing with two paid employees. They plan to give between 5,500 and 6,500 showers per year at pre-approved locations in Jamestown, Tuolumne and Sonora.

Each person who takes a shower will receive a bag with underwear, socks and hygiene products, and the group is accepting donations of those items. They also are looking for more volunteers to join their team and fill various roles, such as marketing, grant-writing, fundraising and case management.

The Sonora Area Foundation Board of Directors also recently announced it had given record amounts in scholarships to Tuolumne County students – 236 awards and $571,350 in grants. Last year, the foundation awarded $375,000 in scholarships.

“Several first-time scholarships were granted including those honoring the memory of: Rick Restivo, Charles (Chuck) Griffin, Dr. Pete Marinovich, Captain John T. Berger and Kenneth H. Bisordi,” Slocum said in a news release.