Roanoke nonprofit helps homeless during pandemic

Published: Jun. 14, 2020 at 5:29 PM EDT
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One Roanoke woman has made it her mission to help the homeless. Dawn Sandoval founded

, where she carries basic survival needs to unsheltered people in Roanoke.

Over these last few months, Sandoval has set up a mobile shower unit, giving out free showers Wednesdays and Saturdays. This weekend, Roanoke resident Tim Wade showed up for a shower but ended up getting something much better than that.

"This is a complete surprise to me, and I'm overjoyed. This is one of the happiest days of my life," Wade said.

A car can change a life. Wade, who has been homeless for over nine months, had no idea Saturday morning that his life was about to take a turn for the better.

"Transportation has been one of the worst things for me when I became homeless, it's one of the worst things any homeless person can face, and now that I have it, I'm sure I'll be able to change everything that I need to change to get me back on track," Wade said.

Wade came to The Least of These Ministry for a warm shower, but Sandoval decided to organize a surprise instead. She says Wade is a hard worker, so Sandoval recently posted on Facebook looking to buy him an inexpensive car. A family messaged her saying they wanted to give up one of their cars for free.

The family gave the car to Wade Saturday.

"This is a new start for him," Sandoval said.

While not everyone gets a car, Sandoval uses her organization to try to give the homeless in Roanoke opportunities and a chance to get back on their feet.

"We have an old ambulance, an old decommissioned ambulance, that carries all of their basic survival needs, all the hygiene products, clean clothes, we serve lunches," Sandoval said.

Throughout the pandemic, Sandoval has been running mobile showers Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until noon next to Belmont Baptist Church in Roanoke.

"You can take a shower, you can be clean, you know what I mean, so if you want to go to a job interview, try to get your life together, they really, really help you out man. I love these people, they show us so much love," said Hodar Tolson, who comes to the ministry for free lunches and showers.

And Wade is certainly feeling that love as well.

"I've felt like because of her, I've had somebody there. Her support is greatly appreciated, and one day I will try to pass this good gesture along to somebody else. I know now that I have to, I'm going to, I want to," Wade said.

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