For the Love of Laundry – and Helping Others
If you’ve ever been through hard times – which most of us have, at some point – you might have considered helping people who are in that same situation you managed to survive.
That’s what Melissa Power from Ontario in Canada wanted to do, and she came up with a wonderful way of doing it.
Once a single mother, Melissa was struggling to make ends meet. She had such little money that she often had to choose between having clean clothes and putting food on the table. She still remembers the humiliation from having to make that choice today.
“It is a first impression people will see, and they will judge you for that, even without knowing why you had to make that choice,” she said. “Cleans clothes are a basic necessity, right up there with housing and food. You can go without it, but you really can’t go far.”
After trying to figure out ways she could save money, she started making her own laundry detergent. Of course, it’s difficult to judge how much you need when you’re making it yourself, and Melissa soon found that she had a surplus on her hands.
Not wanting anything to go to waste, she decided to donate the leftovers to social service agencies. The idea was those in need wouldn’t have to worry about buying soap to wash their clothes with and take a little bit of weight off their shoulders.
But then it occurred to her that if they couldn’t afford to buy soap, they certainly wouldn’t be able to pay for the machines in the Laundromat.
She came up with a new strategy and started selling her soap to local shops. The money she received, she paid to local Laundromats in exchange for them letting struggling people come in and wash their clothes for free.
This is how For the Love of Laundry was born. The programme partners up with Laundromats around London, Ontario, and raises money to pay for the running of the machines for events held once a month.
Money is raised for these events by selling to local shops, as we explained before, but by also making the products available to people online, via their website. Donations of ingredients for the soaps and other products are welcome.
At the events, customers can go to the Laundromats, wash all of their clothes for free, use Melissa’s homemade soap for free, and enjoy free coffee and snacks while they wait.
All kinds of people visit the events: single-parent families, those on a fixed-income, even homeless people. But here is a place where they can all come together and wash their clothes without worries or anything else standing in their way.
They are able to save so much money, and not at the expense of having clean clothes. But more than that, they form a community, with regular attendees building friendships – which can be just as important for people with little else.
Melissa submitted the concept for For the Love of Laundry to The Awesome Foundation, and if her pitch had won, it would have received a grant of $1,000. The idea was well-received, but it didn’t win the grant, though it did win the support of several of the judges.
Melissa is currently working on ideas to expand the programme, such as setting up events in other cities. She is also working on getting school boards to reach out to students in need of laundry services, and making donated clothing available for those who need it.
If you’re in the area and would like to contribute to the programme, you can visit the donations page. And to find out more about the programme, and get the latest news, why not check out their Facebook page.
For the Love of Laundry is a fine example of a life turned around, and just might be able to help others do the same.