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Courtesy Team Rubicon

Because It’s Hard To Find A Laundromat In A Hurricane!

We are so happy to announce that we have just about completed work on our first laundry trailer. It’s not something people think about until they need them, but laundry trailers have turned out to be one of the most appreciated facilities we provide. When we deployed to Louisiana after Hurricane Laura, the local law enforcement personnel we assisted had our washing machines running 24x7. 

This picture of a crew from our partner, Team Rubicon, illustrates why these units are so popular. It’s not just the mud and the grime from working in the sun all day. Responders can come into contact with floodwaters full of pesticides, chemicals, and bacteria. It's about keeping crews clean and healthy. 

Like so many of our units, this one was put together by Mission on Wheels volunteers. A big shout-out to everyone who helped us with the construction!

Make Sure You Help The Helpers!

Want Mission Workers To Keep Coming Back? Keep Them Happy. 

Turnover on your team of disaster response volunteers can be costly in several ways. First, it drains organizations of experience and skill.  Second, it costs the communities you are trying to help since a volunteer’s time is worth nearly $32 an hour, according to the latest government estimates. Third, word of mouth can make it harder to recruit new volunteers. Finally, if the response suffers, the people most in need will be disappointed and the organization’s reputation will suffer. 

Retention is always a concern. The last study about 10 years ago found that about a third of volunteers don’t volunteer again, with the turnover rate approaching nearly 50% in some areas.  That has become even more of a problem since the Pandemic because fewer people are volunteering. The number of volunteers in America dropped by 7% after COVID, the biggest drop in participation in at least 20 years, according to the latest survey.

It is more important than ever to make sure that we do everything we can to ensure the people who give of their time and talents want to keep coming back the next time they are needed. 

One of the most important ways to accomplish that is to ensure people have a good volunteer experience. That came out loud and clear in some new research: What motivates and demotivates emergency response volunteers?  The study found that motivating factors for volunteers include:

And one of the biggest things that demotivate volunteers is having a negative experience on-scene. There are a lot of factors that decide whether volunteers have a positive or negative experience. The one we focus on is volunteer logistics - meeting the needs of the volunteers so that they can see to the community's needs.

When a mission crew arrives in an impacted area, power and water may be out, and displaced residents may have filled nearby hotels and shelters. Sure, some responders love sleeping on a cot in a leaky tent, going a week between showers, and wearing the same muddy jeans day after day.  But what about the other 98% of volunteers?

That’s why Missions on Wheels goes the extra mile. We don’t just provide a shower, but we make sure that the “VIP” feels comfortable and would want to return knowing we are there. By providing safe and secure dorm trailers and clean, well-maintained shower and laundry facilities, we enable mission crews to focus on the job they came to do and get the rest they need to get up and focus the next day, as long as they are on-scene. 

That’s how you create a positive experience for your people.  Happy volunteers keep volunteering! 

Hurricane Season Fades, But Our Work Doesn’t!

Hurricane season isn’t officially over until the end of November, but the chance of a serious storm decreases daily.  It was a busy season, just as the Weather Service predicted, but fortunately, most of the named storms stayed offshore in the Atlantic. 

That doesn’t mean we weren’t busy at Mission on Wheels. Some of our equipment is still in Florida, a year after Hurricane Ian caused $113 billion in estimated damages. Volunteer crews are still on the job, so we’ve kept dorm and shower trailers onsite as well.  This project shows the true impact of our equipment. We’ve saved our nonprofit partners more than $2 million in rental expenses, allowing them to put more people in the field and “do more good.”  We are especially grateful for our strong relationship with Wintergarden Presbyterian Church and Anthem Church in Florida.

Much closer to home, our partners at Compassion United in Conroe, TX, have been able to use one of our 7-stall shower trailers to help people experiencing homelessness. Most people don’t realize that homelessness is an issue in our community. Still, one survey identified nearly four thousand people without stable housing in Montgomery County, and the majority are experiencing homelessness for the very first time.  

In the past six months we made multiple trips back and forth to Florida to support long-term recovery from Hurricane Ian and more recently, immediate response to Hurricane Idalia. Fortunately, the latter was mild, the former is progressing well toward wrapping up next year, and we have been able to partner with Open Bible Community Church to assist with homeless outreach efforts!

As the hurricane season winds down and church summer mission trips are behind us, we can focus on the fleet's maintenance. It is a long to-do list that we work through to be ready whenever and wherever our nonprofit partners need us. 

What It Takes To Respond When We Are Needed 

Our mission model is pretty simple.  Response volunteers and homeless advocates need housing, shower and laundry facilities that are clean, secure, and - most of all - available at little or no cost.  That allows them to do the most good at the least cost. We meet and exceed their expectations, but we need to hold down our own costs whenever possible.  

Have you ever bought a brand-new shower trailer? They cost upwards of $65,000.00, so when a water leak damaged one of our units, we decided to rebuild rather than replace it.  Our volunteers put in a lot of hours tearing the trailer down to the metal frame and replacing the rusty parts. 

We reached a milestone at the start of October when we were able to attach the new walls and begin the new construction. 

When we finish, our “good as new” trailer will have 4 large private access shower rooms and two washer/dryer units. By relying on our volunteers and outfitting the trailer ourselves, we will save about 80% on the cost of a new unit. 

This is where you can help. We still need about $9,000 to finish the job.  Please consider contributing to this project. Think of your donation as paying it forward. You make it possible for us to provide the trailer to responders at little or no cost. That allows them to help the victims of disasters when they are most needed.