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San Clemente Journal

Laundry Love and Sack Lunches Helping our Homeless Neighbors

Dec 05, 2019 01:57PM ● By Donia Moore
by Donia Moore

San Clementeans have always watched out for each other. Many of us may look upon our less fortunate neighbors and think “There but for the grace of God go I.” A medical emergency, a catastrophic event, an illness or a job loss – we are all subject to the vagaries of life. But while we might want to help those troubled neighbors, many of us are not sure how to do so. 
We are blessed to have resources here in San Clemente like Family Assistance Ministries, Mercy House, Laura’s House, and Gilchrist House, but we wanted to share some other ways to help that may not be as well-known. 

Laundry Love
“If I had clean clothes, I think people would treat me like a human being.” 
(T-Bone, a homeless gentleman in Ventura,CA)
In 2003, members of a church congregation in Ventura asked T-Bone how they could be of practical help to him. His response was direct, honest and moving. Shortly following that conversation, Laundry Love was born. And every single Laundry Love established around the U.S. is connected to this man. 

T-Bone’s desire for worth and welcome is found in us all. Sometimes it is the simplest approach to helping others that is the best, and Laundry Love has found that solution by inviting homeless people to a local Laundromat and paying for their loads of washing.
This outreach is provided once monthly by volunteers from Christ Lutheran Church and St. Clement’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church who welcome guests at Laundry Basket South in San Clemente. 

Young mothers come to wash bedding and towels, loads which would take an enormous amount of their monthly budget. Single men come in with one backpack holding every bit of clothing they own, and people living in local hotels rush back to tell their neighbors to join them to do their laundry. This is practical assistance in its simplest form to those in need.

This assistance, though not always obvious, is of great benefit to the children of the homeless. If they have go to school in clothing that smells unpleasant or is obviously dirty, they may be subjected to teasing/bullying that can make it difficult for them to focus on their studies and to enjoy school. When clothing/bedding is unwashed, it can foster health problems especially for the very young and the elderly. And unclean adults often face a lack of self-respect from society that may inhibit any efforts to find and keep employment or to better their situation. 

How can we help?
 Laundry Love is not meant to be a one-off event. It is not a service project or something you “do to” “or for” people. It's an expression of living in harmony with others, and it requires a commitment to your community. 

Did you know that the cost of doing laundry is sometimes the breaking point for people who are living on the edge? It can range from $2.50 plus to wash a single load, and $1.50 plus to dry (costs vary by city and Laundromats). Laundry Love seeks to bring economic relief to people who sometimes are forced to choose between being clean or eating. 

How does it work? 
Participants load their own laundry into washers and dryers in order to protect their privacy. Volunteers distribute quarters or cards for both washers and dryers. And of course, donations for supplies (detergent, bleach, fabric softeners) are always welcomed.  There are currently 65 clients involved in this program, though not everyone comes every month. It costs approximately $450 each month just for the use of the washers and dryers. All supplies (soap, dryer sheets, bags, etc.) are donated. 
Please contact Tina Inglish for more information and to help… [email protected].

Healthy Sack Lunches
Many of our neighbors in need rely on the community to provide them with at least one good, nutritious meal per week. Every Friday, that need is being met at St. Clement’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. And volunteers are needed and invited to participate in sandwich-making for the church’s Welcome Inn on Sundays after 10 a.m. services at the church. 

How does it work?
St. Clement’s parishioners provide and distribute sack lunches of sandwiches, chips, fruit, juice, desserts and more for the hungry and needy in the neighborhood every Friday of the year, including holidays. 

How can we help?
Volunteers coordinate the sandwich-making for this outreach at the church after the 10am Sunday services. One or two volunteers are needed to: purchase groceries and supplies and to set up and lead the sandwich-making.

Contact Jan Genevro at [email protected] for more information and to volunteer. 

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