2018-04-26 / News

Laundry project comes out of labor of love

By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer


Vicki Donaghy of Kennebunkport and Sara Clinens of Kennebunk await the arrival of laundromat patrons for the Laundry Love event, hosted by Seeds of Hope in Biddeford and St. David’s Episcopal Church in Kennebunk. Clinens spearheaded the effort to bring Laundry Love to Maine. (Abigail Worthing photo) Vicki Donaghy of Kennebunkport and Sara Clinens of Kennebunk await the arrival of laundromat patrons for the Laundry Love event, hosted by Seeds of Hope in Biddeford and St. David’s Episcopal Church in Kennebunk. Clinens spearheaded the effort to bring Laundry Love to Maine. (Abigail Worthing photo) BIDDEFORD – St. David’s Episcopal Church in Kennebunk teamed up with Seeds of Hope in Biddeford to host the first Laundry Love event in Maine.

Laundry Love is a nationwide project that uses donations to pay for laundry. Laundry is a necessary household chore, but for those without a washer and dryer at home, visiting the laundromat can be a financial hardship. The event, which was held April 17 at Boom’s Laundry on Elm Street in Bdideford, aimed to temporarily provide relief from the financial strain of laundry, but also focus on making connections between people whose paths may normally not ever cross.


Sue and Jim Andrews, Lyman residents and parishioners at St. David’s in Kennebunk, man the registration table at Boom’s Laundry as part of Laundry Love. (Abigail Worthing photo) Sue and Jim Andrews, Lyman residents and parishioners at St. David’s in Kennebunk, man the registration table at Boom’s Laundry as part of Laundry Love. (Abigail Worthing photo) The idea to bring Laundry Love to the area came from Sara Clinens, a parishioner at St. David’s and teacher at Middle School of the Kennebunks. Clinens had heard of the project from a friend in California and thought it would be a great outreach program for St. David’s. When Pastor Andrew D’Angio White came to St. David’s from New York in December 2016, Clinens wasted no time bringing Laundry Love to his attention.

“One of the first Sundays at St. David’s, Sara came up to me and said ‘I’m glad you’re here, I have a really great idea I’ve been wanting to do for a while.’ I’d heard of Laundry Love before, so I was really glad someone brought it up,” D’Angio White said.

D’Angio White and his wife Sarah had previously volunteered with Seeds of Hope in Biddeford, and when the church decided to move forward with Laundry Love, they brought it to the Rev. Shirley Bowen, executive director of Seeds of Hope, a nonprofit organization on South Street in Biddeford that provides support to those who struggle.

“We hear all the time from people that they wash their clothes in the bathtub because it’s too expensive,” Bowen said. “They brought it to me asking, ‘Is this a need?’ and I thought this could be a huge service to the people of Biddeford.”

When patrons arrived at the laundromat last week they were greeted by volunteers from St. David’s and directed to a registration table. There, they were assigned a volunteer who would help them find the appropriate sized machine for their load, and got to know them throughout the process. All money and detergent for the event were provided by the program and the service was offered to all patrons who happened to walk through the doors of Boom’s Laundry that evening.

“The goal is to take the burden off them once a month so that money can be diverted elsewhere,” Clinens said.

Prior to the event, St. David’s hosted a training session with the help of Bowen. At the training, 25 volunteers were instructed on how to identify different loads of laundry, what type of detergent to use and were briefed on Seeds of Hope and the lives and struggles that face those in need.

“People are struggling, poor, homeless,” Bowen said. “We want people to see that there’s enough for everybody.”

Seeds of Hope has a drop-in resource center that operates five days a week, a career center and hosts events throughout the year. Prior to the event, Seeds of Hope reached out to more than 70 organizations to raise awareness about Laundry Love so those in need could take advantage. Bowen plans to attend the first few events to ensure that those from Seeds of Hope see a friendly face upon arrival.

“It’s important that they see someone they know and trust,” Bowen said.

To get the program started, both St. David’s and Seeds of Hope wrote grants to the Episcopal Diocese for $1,200 and $1,000 respectively. St. David’s also received an outreach grant of $2,300.

“This is the first Laundry Love in the state of Maine, and we’re hoping it will spread throughout the diocese,” said Nancy Clinton, director of outreach at St. David’s.

According to Clinens, the goal of Laundry Love is not only to help with the financial burden of going to a laundomat, but to get to know one another over the communal act of doing laundry.

“We’re forming relationships and crossing divides,” Clinens said. “Laundry Love is a service project to be with people.”

“People are so divided by so many things,” D’Angio White said. “We are all people made in the image of God and deserve help and love.”

D’Angio White felt this was a fitting project for the community at St. David’s and was hopeful that it will become a bigger event.

“For some communities, Laundry Love is a big event, with people helping with homework and providing haircuts. We’re excited to see what happens,” said D’Angio White. “This time we’ll be saying ‘nice to meet you’ and next time, hopefully we’ll be saying ‘good to see you again.’”

The April 17 event helped 18 people and families, some of whom came for the event, while others were pleasantly surprised to be able to save the money they would have spent on laundry that evening.

Laundry Love will take place at Boom’s Laundry 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month. Those who want to make a donation to the Laundry Love program can do so either at Seeds of Hope or St. David’s and stipulate that it is a Laundry Love donation.

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@inthecourier.com.

FMI

The next Laundry Love event will be held 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 15 at Boom’s Laundry on Elm Street in Biddeford.

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