Howard: Who knew the values of clean clothes?

Published 3:04 am Saturday, October 15, 2016


A recent report on the ABC Evening News told the story of Melody Gunn, the principal of an elementary school in St. Louis. To find out why absenteeism was very high in her school, she went door to door to figure out the reasons that students weren’t coming to school. Unexpectedly, she discovered one answer was “dirty clothes.” The students’ families simply weren’t able to afford to do laundry, and so students didn’t have clean clothes to wear to school.

A number of years ago, T-Bone (Eric), a homeless man living in Ventura, Calif., was asked, “T-Bone, how can we come alongside your life in a way that would matter?” His response was honest and practical. “If I had clean clothes I think people would treat me like a human being.”

Who knew that something as seemingly simple as clean clothes could make such a difference?

Dr. Gunn started a program to wash her students’ clothes at school, and absenteeism dropped dramatically ( And, the answer T-Bone gave was the impetus for Laundry Love, a national initiative to help wash the clothes and bedding of individuals and/or families living in poverty. The Program seeks to nurture the well-being of each person through intentional networking and friendship.

A few months ago, members of First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church began a local Laundry Love Ministry in partnership with the Soap Opera Laundromat. We provide money for up to three loads of laundry (washing/drying), as well as detergent and fabric softener, to those who come. No identification or qualifying information is collected. Volunteers from each church are present each evening to welcome people and explain the ministry. Our goal is not only to assist people do their laundry but also to build a sense of community and friendship among all who participate in these Laundry Love evenings.

We are open the third Thursday of each month from 4:00-7:00 pm at the Soap Opera Laundromat, 1528 East Three Notch Street. The next date we will be open is October 20th.

Do you know someone who could benefit from help in doing their laundry? Pass this information along to them. Clean clothes may seem like a small thing, but it could make more of a difference than you’ll ever know.


-The Rev. Cindy Howard is the rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.