EPICS students unveil finished project, and a living legacy

How important is a hot shower to you?   

Ribbon-cutting crowd
Proud EPICS students cut the ribbon to the unit.

On August 5th, the “Hygiene for the Homeless” portable shower and laundry unit was finally unveiled and readied for use by the Gilroy Compassion Center (GCC) and its local affiliates. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony included speeches from Associate Dean Jinny Rhee, Professor Keith Perry, and GCC Executive Director, Jan Chargin.

The project, which involved students of the EPICS program, took almost two years to complete. Diligent work, combined with an inspired vision and donated funds from GCC and SJSU, resulted in the successful transformation of an old shipping container into a portable shower and laundry facility for homeless clients.

Dedicated leadership was also an important factor in the project’s fulfillment. Mechanical engineering student Steven Meacham served as the team’s leader as they navigated the obstacles that accompany such a large project.

Family, friends, and the San Jose State community were shocked and saddened by Steven’s untimely death a few days before the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Now the Hygiene for the Homeless unit not only serves as a public utility but also as a meaningful tribute to his memory.
a glimpse of the laundry
A tidy unit with two showers and washer/dryer.

“Steven managed to work, go to school, and constantly help people,” said Michelle Walker, one of Steven’s closest friends. “He helped classmates with homework, shared his food with homeless people, and provided advice, comfort, and laughter to friends.”

Steven’s parents, Tim and Terri Meacham, plan on further commemorating their son through a scholarship in his name, in addition to supporting the EPICS program. Funds are also being donated by individual benefactors.

The unit is being used as part of a Safe Parking Program at the Morgan Hill Bible Church. GCC Executive Director Chargin gave a passionate speech about the difference it has made for the homeless families who are currently using it. Unlike other portable units, this hooks up to city water to offer unlimited showers and laundry cycles. Professor Perry acknowledged the student teams, and Steven’s excellent leadership.

The EPICS program as a whole, initiated and maintained by Dr. Rhee, has seen a surge in growth since its arrival at the College of Engineering just two years ago. The class has now expanded to 60 students, 8 community partners, and 11 projects, all focused on engineering and technology that seek to benefit the community.

“We are continuing our collaboration with the GCC,” says Dr. Rhee about the new EPICS academic year, “and also bringing on new projects that address food insecurity, sustainable gardening, and projects for our very own campus.” Read more about EPICS.