Good Neighbors

Man Builds Portable Hand-Washing Machines For Homeless Population

He wanted them to have a way to keep their hands clean during the coronavirus crisis.

As the threat of the coronavirus spreads and people everywhere are washing their hands like crazy to avoid spreading germs, Terence Lester was concerned about those who don't have easy access to clean water or soap.

Lester is one of the founders of Love Beyond Walls, an organization that raises awareness about the homeless and mobilizes people to help the country's most vulnerable population.

Lester had the idea to build portable hand-washing stations for the homeless people in his community to use. @imTerenceLester

As more cities go into lockdown and social distancing becomes the norm, Lester wanted to make sure the people living on the streets in his hometown had a way to stay sanitary.

"I started wondering how homeless people would keep their hands clean. It's already difficult," Lester told 11 Alive.

He thought of the idea of creating portable hand-washing stations that could be placed in public areas throughout the city. After making a few phone calls, he got in touch with an RV manufacturer who shared the technology needed to make the stations.

Within a week, 15 portable hand washing stations were donated to him. Each station holds between 5 and 10 gallons of water. The stations are operated by a foot pump and there's a soap dispenser attached to each one.

"They are [assembly-based] hand-washing stations that are used in RVs," Lester said. "We had the idea to use them for people experiencing homelessness because many don't have access to running water and no way to wash their hands."

Lester mobilized a crew of volunteers through his organization Love Beyond Walls to help install the stations. @imTerenceLester

Lester, who was homeless for a brief time when he was a teenager, knows how hard it can be for people who are living on the streets to find a reliable source of fresh water.

"When I was experiencing homelessness being out there, you would have to go a mile or two to wash your hands or go to the bathroom," Lester said. "I wanted to make sure we put stations in parts where people are under bridges, just in case someone wants to stop and wash their hands."

Lester was joined by a crew of volunteers last Thursday to set up the hand-washing stations in downtown Atlanta. Along with Lester, the volunteers will help keep the stations clean and refill the tanks and soap dispensers as needed.

One of the volunteers who helped was Grammy-award winning recording artist, Lecrae (R). @imTerenceLester

Lester hopes that other states will come up with similar solutions to help people stay clean, especially during the coronavirus crisis.

"In times like these, I'm reminded of the words from MLK Jr.," Lester wrote in an Instagram post after the first homeless person used the station to wash their hands.

"In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality." —Martin Luther King Jr., A Letter from Birmingham Jail.

The hand-washing stations have been set up throughout downtown Atlanta. @imTerenceLester

How can you start something good?

To learn more about Lester's work with Love Beyond Walls, click here.


If you're in the Atlanta, GA area and would like to volunteer with Love Beyond Walls, click here.


To make a donation to Love Beyond Walls, click here.


Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

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