Velvet King and colleague in front of the HiEHiE van

Velvet King (right) with a colleague

The HiEHiE van, click for larger image

The launch of a community shower truck in 2018 marked the capstone of course work in Kapiʻolani Community College’s Community Health Worker Program for student Velvet King.

The Community Health Worker (CHW) Program is a relatively new program at the college. CHWs are frontline public health workers who work with disadvantaged populations to make sure their clients get the right care at the right time. In spring 2018, 42 students earned their Certificate of Competence. This fall, 10 students are completing the program and represent the second class of graduates.

As part of the curriculum, students fulfill a practicum requirement by working directly with individuals in distressed areas. In fall 2018, King served as an apprentice to Project Vision Hawaiʻi, a non-profit organization that provides health screenings and education with a focus on vision health. Committed to helping her clients take action as well as promoting healthy communities, King got involved with partner organization HiEHiE, a mobile hygiene facility that offers hot showers to people who do not otherwise have access to a bathing facility. HiEHiE was formally recognized on Oʻahu recently with a brief ceremony at the Waiʻanae Boat Harbor.

Everyone is allowed to use the shower truck; no verification or identification is required. There also is one ADA accessible bathroom to accommodate those with disabilities. The shower truck can provide 20 showers or 310 gallons of water at any one time. If waste water can be disposed of on site, there is no limit to the number of showers the truck can provide.

King says through her CHW experience, she learned the importance of supporting others with compassion and empathy.

“Oftentimes as a CHW, we take our work and role in the community for granted. The CHW experience provided my classmates and me a platform to highlight our successes and celebrate our victories as well as brainstorm difficulties we faced in the workplace.” King said. “The networking opportunities formed with fellow classmates, instructors, and guest speakers have been super-beneficial at work and I have already collaborated on several projects with almost everyone. I highly recommend this certification program to all health workers in the field. It has truly been a fulfilling and rewarding experience!”