Originally posted at Change.org
By Greg Russinger
“If I had clean clothes maybe people would treat me like a human being.”
Little did we know that this simple statement would catapult an idea into a national initiative of compassion. The deafening sound of poverty and homelessness need attentive listeners who are willing to be led and taught by those most affected.
The Laundry Love idea was originally birthed through T-Bone, a beautiful soul who slept under the stars in Ventura California. T-Bone was more than some label or statistic for homelessness, he was a friend, a teacher, who gave his unmasked humanity freely so we wouldn’t lose our humane-ity.
T-Bone doesn’t know that there have been 40+ Laundry Love started in U.S., caring for over 15,000 people every month since his suffocating comment. He doesn’t know that close to 30,000 loads of laundry have been washed or children have been tutored, individuals and families have received basic medical care and basic items to live on for another week. All happening inside the often sterile store-front laundry mat sitting silently in our cities and towns.
You might be wondering how this initiative of compassion works, or what it is exactly?
For the sake of simplicity, I will outline.
Laundry Love is an open-source cooperative of JustOne in partnership with diverse individuals and groups throughout the U.S. We care for the homeless, houseless, and those living in motels and shelters by washing their clothes and bedding for free. But this more than just clean clothes, this is a “health, hygiene, economic, and relational” effort.
Health and Hygiene
Un-washed clothes and bedding become a store house for passable sickness, bacteria and disease. MRSA is one such bacteria/virus that effect children, the elderly and people with low resistance due to poor nutrition and lack of proper healthcare. We also see the emotion strain that unwashed clothing places on young/teenage children. The typical teasing that occurs in a elementary or Jr High setting is heighten when a young person walks around with a stench attached to his or her fabric.
Low income family units, single parents with children, and marginalized individuals know the daily pressures of providing/finding shelter and food. Paying $600-$1,200 a month on a one bedroom or studio motel room can pull the financial rug from under you. The cost of washing clothes is just another financial weight, $2.50 + for a wash and .75 cents for a dry quickly adds up. What happens if you’re a family of 4?
Laundry Love brings economic relief giving people the option to redirect funds for food, medical visit, gas for the car, school supplies, etc.
Laundry Love is designed for everyday people. We believe this initiative answers the universal question “what can we do” when people come in contact with local poverty and homelessness. Faith communities, students, neighbors, friends, partnering organizations, and local social agencies start Laundry Love’s in their local context utilizing the simplicity , openness and effectiveness LL offers.
The relationship is layered due to the connections made with laundry mat owners/managers, tutors, medical personnel, business sponsors, people dropping off detergent/quarters, local stores hosting candy machines, shelters and motels, neighbors, and those served.
The bottom line, Laundry Love is a local and relational movement.