Clean as a Whistle

Clean as a Whistle

Five years ago, the nonprofit Think Dignity launched Fresh Start, the first mobile shower program in San Diego, serving those who are experiencing or are on the cusp of homelessness. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic meant these hygiene services were no longer safe to operate.

“We were at this moral impasse, whether to run a program and provide services and risk peoples’ health or completely shut down to the point where people don’t have access,” says Merlynn Watanabe ’16 (MA), programs and operations manager with Think Dignity and a Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies alumna. “That’s where USD stepped in and was really thinking about how to create solutions that could support us.”

In the fall of 2020, Think Dignity partnered with the university through the Changemaker Challenge to brainstorm ways that Fresh Start could resume operations safely. With possible solutions proposed by the USD student body, Think Dignity enlisted the help of engineering graduate Matteo Hernandez ’20 (BS/BA) to make this goal a reality.

— Allyson Meyer '16 (BA), '21 (MBA)

The full version of this article appears in the Fall 2021 USD Magazine.