MORONGO BASIN— Bob Guthrie is a man with a car wash business and a plan to put hundreds of homeless people to work.
Guthrie is a Mississippi native who ventured to the Morongo Basin last week. His plan is to find homeless people in San Bernardino County, including veterans, who need work.
With a campaign he calls “Make America Safe,” he plans to train workers to wash cars using an eco-friendly car wash solution that is petroleum-free and requires no water.
Workers will be given the supplies and transportation needed for the first 100 cars they wash until they are able to buy their own product and become self-sustaining.
Guthrie partnered with Don Frohriep, who runs River Don Sanctuary, to find employees. In less than a week, Guthrie hired and trained six employees who are staying at the transitional housing sanctuary.
“I got here last Tuesday night and I’m not leaving for a while,” Guthrie said with a grin.
Guthrie is also joining forces with Bob Holmes, a solo volleyball player and motivational speaker who travels to schools throughout the country to perform.
“I’ve known Bob (Holmes) for a number of years; he was set up here, and telling me there are so many veterans out here, Guthrie said Tuesday.
“We’ve heard there are over 900 homeless kids in the Morongo Basin.”
Guthrie said he knows many families go hungry toward the end of the month. He wants to put them to work.
“I once met a family with five kids. The mother was inebriated on the floor and the kids were eating toothpaste when they got hungry,” he said. He aims to provide training and business skills to those who need it most.
“If we can just get a couple leaders out here, we can get them going to where they can train others,” he explained.
On a warm afternoon in Yucca Valley, Guthrie lit up at the chance to wash a mid-size car with No-Wet Green Way, a liquid solution that is applied to a vehicle’s surface and wiped away. The process takes less than 30 minutes and requires no water. Guthrie and his crew don’t use high pressure washers or hoses. Their operation is lightweight, quick and extremely mobile.
“There was a guy detailing a motor home with an electric brush. It took him six hours to do. With this solution, it took him less than two hours and it looked shinier,” Holmes testified.
Guthrie says his solution emulsifies dirt on vehicles and the combination of plant-based ingredients helps protect paint and leaves no scratches.
“It will help desert-proof the cars and keep the paint safe,” Guthrie said. “It’s a job in a bottle that creates residual income.”
Guthrie’s mission is bigger than employment. He and Frohriep have plans to build a transitional housing facility in the north Joshua Tree area that can accommodate about 800 people.
“The VA hospital is overloaded. I want ‘em. I want ‘em out,” Frohriep said. Currently, he is housing about 20 residents at his sanctuary.
Guthrie and Frohriep hope to attract veterans on Nov. 12, the day after Veterans Day, by offering free car washes and waxes to 100 veterans. The event will serve as a fundraiser if Guthrie and his crew can get people to pledge a donation for each car washed.
Until then, Guthrie is busy washing, waxing, training and quietly providing hope.
“I’m out here on faith,” he said. “I bought a lot of product.”