Church outreach ministry returns to laundromat to help local residents

Laundry Love is held every third Tuesday of the month at the Fresh Spin Laundromat on North Point Blvd.

Church outreach ministry returns to  laundromat to help local residents
March 17
07:36 2022

Now that things are returning back to normal as we navigate this pandemic, many churches are returning to in-person worship and outreach ministries. For St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, now is the perfect time to restart their work beyond the walls of the church.

Laundry Love is the name of one ministry that has been around for a while, but there was not a chapter in Winston-Salem. St. Anne’s rector, Pastor Ginny Wilder, collaborated with Wake Forest campus minister James Franklin to bring Laundry Love to the city. They wrote a grant to the local diocese for seed money and were successful in their efforts and things took off from there.

Started in 2018, Laundry Love was held at the Fresh Spin Laundromat, 7838 North Point Blvd. every third Tuesday of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. The group would provide funds for individuals to do their laundry, but they had to put everything on pause in February of 2020 due to the pandemic. Laundry Love will relaunch on March 15 back at Fresh Spin.

“It’s low-hanging fruit to be honest and it doesn’t take much to get started, and no matter who you are, chances are you know the need of laundry,” said Wilder about why they chose Laundry Love as a ministry.  “The cost of a week’s worth of laundry to a family could be substantial.  

“So, we thought, why don’t we go where there is a community, bring the gift of our grant money, and build a community there in the laundromat. So for the third Tuesday of every month from late 2018 until February 2020, we met the community where they were. We brought in dinner, we brought in enrichment for children, and we just prayed for one another and had a chance to work collaboratively with the Episcopal campus ministry at Wake Forest, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s senior group, and St. Anne’s.”

The group settled upon Fresh Spin because it had the required space for all of the activities the group wanted to provide.  

“We looked at a laundromat that was closer to St. Anne’s so that we would have even more of a neighborhood connection, but the laundromat we looked at was a bit too small for what we wanted to do,” said Wilder. “So, I was out at the post office, which is right behind the laundromat, and I was able to catch an attendant who works at the laundromat and I said, ‘Do you think this kind of idea would fly?’

“She said, I think it would, but you have to talk to our boss. So, I called Mr. Bruce, who owns Fresh Spin, and he said absolutely. We like the fact that Fresh Spin is close to a bus route and it’s close to a lot of other establishments, so people can be doing laundry and other errands at the same time.”

They attempted to bring back the program several times before now, but the COVID-19 numbers kept spiking. Now that numbers are dipping, Wilder is excited to bring Laundry Love back.

“It’s not a hard ministry. It’s not something that you have to study for, it’s not something that you have to really prepare for. All you have to do is show up and meet people where they are,” Wilder continued. “I imagine since it’s been two years, we are going to have to reestablish some relationships because we had some regulars, which was awesome, that we could check in with them every month.

“There is something very amazing when someone would walk in with eight loads of laundry and we could say to them, ‘We will take care of your laundry tonight.’ We don’t touch people’s laundry, but we are going to financially take care of it. We are going to give them something to eat and invite them to share any prayer concerns they have. It’s no pressure at all, it’s just love and community.”

Prior to the pandemic shutting down the ministry, Wilder says the volunteers in the program really built great relationships with several individuals who were regulars to Laundry Love.

“To have built that relationship over a couple months, people would catch us up on their job search or how they are doing in school, or milestones of their children, or if their loved one was ill and they made a recovery,” Wilder said.

The volunteers enjoy this ministry as much as those who are being helped, said Wilder.

“Ministry and outreach can sometimes feel very passive. Packing lunches for the homeless or collecting supplies for a food bank or donating money for an organization – and I don’t want to knock those three things because they are incredibly important to our community to do those things – but Laundry Love puts us right in the heart of it,” she stated.

“I had several members of our volunteer community that would say it was the best Tuesday of the month. I love this, I love being with the people, I love playing with the kids. I think that our love for our neighbor is possible because of our love for God and the love God has for us. 

“When we meet each other in the middle of the messiness and we offer our authentic hearts, nothing but joy can come from that, and our volunteers really do experience that.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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