Nonprofit providing toilets to those in need

Nonprofit providing toilets to those in need

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) —A new nonprofit called Toilet Equity is already making a difference in Grand Junction by installing free-to-use, environmentally friendly port-a-potties at organizations that allow it.

Everyone needs a place to poop or pee or go to the bathroom, change a menstrual product and we want to make sure that people have a safe, clean place to do that with dignity.

Kaitlin Pettit, CEO Toilet Equity

Toilet Equity started in 2022 when its founder Paul Padyk combined his own experience of having no access to a bathroom during travels with conditions he saw the homeless enduring along the riverfront trail in Grand Junction. Kaitlin Pettit, CEO of Toilet Equity, said everyone at their company has their own story about needing a toilet when they can’t find one.

“I have people in my family who have had that lack of toilet access at one point or another…A lot of our users don’t have that access they have to schedule their lives around when they eat and drink knowing when everything is going to pass through to be able to still have access to a bathroom,” Pettit told WesternSlopeNow.

The City of Grand Junction shuts down restrooms in the winter and port-a-potties aren’t always readily available. But, Toilet Equity is looking to change that by installing free-to-use environmentally friendly toilets. “Most of them are a standard four by four wooden structure, kind of looks like a tool shed. When you open the door it’s going to basically look like a standard port-a-potty, just more room,” Pettit said.

To use a Toilet Equity port-a-potty is the same as any other toilet, with one caveat. After you’re done doing your business you throw some sawdust on top. The Toilet Equity website says this prevents any odors and stops flies from gathering (WesternSlopeNow did independently confirm this claim).

Unlike a traditional port-a-john, once a Toilet Equity toilet fills up, volunteers take it to their composting facility.

The equity in Toilet Equity

In most toilets, even ones connected to plumbing, you’re not supposed to ‘flush’ menstrual products down, but Pettit says they encourage people to dispose of their menstrual products in their toilets—instead of carrying them around looking for a trash can.

It’s not a burden on us. I’m standing right [next to the toilet] and I can’t smell anything.

Kevin Arnesman, Senior Pastor, First Christian Church

Right now there are four locations throughout Grand Junction; The Resource Pavilion, Homeward Bound, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Grand Valley, and First Christian Church. WesternSlopeNow spoke to Kevin Arnesman, the senior pastor at First Christian Church, about why he has a Toilet Equity port-a-potty on his church grounds.

“It’s a huge challenge to try to solve the major problem, but we can solve some of the smaller problems,” Arnesman said. From a property owner’s perspective, Arnesman said it hasn’t brought their property values down and led to very few neighbor complaints.

Bruce Hinds volunteers with the outreach ministry at First Christian Church and knows why extra toilets are so necessary. “A lot of times they’re not welcome at the park for various reasons and so they know this is safe and they can come over here and they’re not going to be harassed at all,” Hinds said.

Hinds himself is homeless.

I know what it is to not be able to make it to the restroom and there’s nobody that wants to go through that. It’s very demeaning, it’s very shameful and in our great big giant world, it should not ever be a problem for anybody to find a clean bathroom and be safe just to go to the bathroom.”

Bruce Hinds

You can learn more about Toilet Equity here.

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