JAMESTOWN – More people are coming to Rainbow Laundry twice a month to take advantage of a program that washes their clothes for free.
But that in turn has put a strain on the program’s budget to help people, and the coordinator hopes donations will continue to offset the cost.
Terri Krovoza is the coordinator for Laundry Love, a program she worked to launch in 2017 in Jamestown through the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Now going into its sixth year in November, she says the demand has doubled from pre-pandemic levels.
“We have started averaging between 25 and 30 individuals and families that come (each time) which is a big increase over pre-COVID,” she said. “We probably had maybe 13 to 15 families and individuals (before that), and I don’t know what brought on the big increase.”
Laundry Love is offered on the first and third Thursday of each month from 2 to 6 p.m. at Rainbow Laundry. Krovoza learned about the national program from a fellow member of the South Central Homeless Coalition. It originated in California when a pastor asked a homeless man what would have the most impact on his life. His answer was clean clothes, so people would treat him as a human being.
The initiative that partners with individuals, groups and laundromats in the U.S. to provide help with laundry resonated with Krovoza.
“I thought, ‘Wow, this would be really pretty easy to do,’” she said.
With backing from her church after raising $400 in quarters from parishioners, the program launched and was offered once a month in Jamestown but has grown to twice a month. Donations have kept the program going.
“I know we don’t have a lot of homeless people in Jamestown but we do have a lot of lower income (people) that just need a little extra help,” Krovoza said, “and they really seem to be appreciative of what we do for them.”
Laundry Love provides quarters to wash and dry people’s clothing and bedding and serves people of all ages. Free laundry detergent and dryer sheets are also provided but some people use their own supplies, Krovoza said. Laundry Love volunteers are on site to place the coins in the machines but do not do the laundry, she said. There are no criteria for the people they help.
“If they feel that they need it, we just provide it,” Krovoza said. “We don’t ask questions.”
Participants can get three free loads as an individual and six for a family, Krovoza said. Families of four or more can get eight loads of laundry free.
“It’s kind of a learning curve for people because they just want to bring all their stuff (such as rugs which they don’t include),” Krovoza said, “ … and that wasn’t a problem when we only had 15 to 20 people coming. But now that we have 25 to 30 we are going through a lot of money and it’s not going to be sustainable.”
Laundry Love now costs about $1,000 per month, Krovoza said.
“And that’s … why we’re needing a lot more donations because we run this strictly on donations,” she said.
Krovoza said she’s appreciative of community support, noting multiple clubs, banks, churches and other organizations have donated to the initiative. She said gaming funds “really saved us this last year.”
“I just really want to emphasize the appreciation that we have for the community and all the support that they have given us,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
One man who came to Rainbow Laundry on Thursday, Sept. 1, during the most recent Laundry Love event said he is on a limited income.
“It helps out a lot,” said the man, who did not want to be identified.
Volunteers are also welcome to help with Laundry Love events, Krovoza said. With only a few volunteers most days – two on Sept. 1 – it gets busy trying to help everyone when there’s a rush, she said.
For more information on Laundry Love, to volunteer or contribute, contact Krovoza at 269-9533.