July 21, 2018, Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

Nelson Barry’s law office in Diamond Heights was piled so high with plastic containers of clothing that it looked like The Gap’s warehouse.

And what was the purpose of these mountains of bags of men’s and women’s clothing?

Urban Angels SF was preparing for the July 24 Pop-Up Care Village created and hosted by Lava Mae.

LavaMae.org operates in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles where it parks trailers with three shower rooms (and private toilets) for the unhoused.

Weeks earlier, Nelson had reached out to Lava Mae and offered our collection of pre-owned clothing for its July 24 event.

Toiling away at Nelson’s offices that Saturday were Tatsiana, Dick, Karen, Victoria and Francine. Betsy and Tori also stopped in with their generous offerings of clean and lightly-used clothing.

What looked like chaotic rummaging was actually strategic sorting. The team went through every bulging plastic bag, triaging and separating men from women’s clothes. And within those categories, they separated the tops from pants, socks, jackets, shoes and accessories etc.

Betsy Eddy, president of the Diamond Heights Community Association, had used her influence as Diamond Heights community organizer to lure masses of contributions. Thank you Betsy!

But it wasn’t all toil. Victoria’s dog Samadhi and Francine’s dog Rosa were present to give strokes and licks.

And while our volunteers labored for six hours, their work wasn’t done yet. Nelson returned with a skeleton crew the next day to finish sorting and load these contributions into a U-Haul truck in preparation for delivery on Tuesday.

On July 24, the Lava Mae Pop Up Care Village was visited by 349 unhoused guests who were served by 49 volunteers. While the day was a huge success, this success was due to the large number of unhoused men and women who showed up to take advantage of the offerings; clothing, food, counseling, haircuts, medical attention and, of course, showers. So the success was bitter sweet.



Nelson Barry III