2nd Wednesdays at 7pm Beach Coin Laundry 19072 Beach Bl (x Garfield) Huntington Beach

... and we also help with laundry

Chicken Bowls, Snow Cones, Corn on a Stick, Art Class, Clothes Shopping, Back-to-School Backpacks, Yoga Mats, Haircuts, Groceries...... and Laundry.

In August we had our busiest month ever. We welcomed our regular guests and a few new folks to the Beach Coin Laundry for our usual grocery, hot meal and laundry party. But this month we had a few extras.
In one corner, Barbra, from St George's Episcopal Church in Laguna Hills, set up Art Camp. As you can see, we had kids that were only too happy to create art for their parents. What a blessing to have Barbra there so that the parents can focus on their laundry while their kids are safe and entertained.

Shannon kicked off the night by welcoming volunteers, telling the story of T-Bone, and leading them through the activities and assignments for the night. Here she and Christian confer, as Christian announced that he could take donations via credit card using the dongle on his phone.

Meanwhile, outside in the back alley, guests were about to get their groceries courtesy of Laundrylove. Once a month we go to the Second Harvest Food Bank and purchase groceries so that we can provide our homeless and low-income individuals and families with some food.

After the orientation, and a short reflection from Steve on how grateful we are to have the opportunities to get to know our guests and volunteers and to take some time to give ourselves away, we got down to the business of laundry and love.

As kids are playing and drawing, and washers are loaded, and conversations fire up, and friendships are celebrated, we welcomed our volunteers who were serving the meal for the evening. As it turns out, we had two groups volunteer.
Gabby, our laundromat attendant and dear friend, had asked one of her friends to bring her cart with shaved ice and corn on a stick.
First they offered their own prayer:

Yummmm. The corn on the cob was served with butter, Parmesan cheese, spices and mayonnaise. The shaved ice came in all sorts of flavors and colors.

Teriyaki chicken bowls were supplied by our new friend, Sefo, the owner/sushi chef at Kiku (kikuhb.com) restaurant in H.B. has a program called "Chicken Bowl for the Soul" at his place where customers donate on their check and the restaurant supplies food for an organization like us.

As dinner began, volunteer Connor arrived with a truckload of clothes, shoes, backpacks, socks and more. Connor, who is about to start college at SMU, worked all during high school to gather clothing and distribute them to the less fortunate in Huntington Beach and surroundings. We met him and his mother at the new North Huntington Beach Laundrylove last month. 

And during dinner Nayyer and his son arrived with backpacks with back to school supplies, and we handed them out to the kids (there were lots this time). And Shannon then brought out some donated Yoga mats from her Yoga Studio.

And as always, the volunteers at Laundrylove are there primarily to have conversations with our guests. To find out what is going on in their lives. Where we can help them further. What is not working in the social services that they depend on. What is happening in their families. 
What a humbling grace it is to listen to stories, and at least be able to offer some food and laundry every month.

Thanks to everyone who continues to support Laundrylove Huntington Beach! 

You're invited!

We will be having a party/fundraiser and we would love you to be there!

A benefit evening for Laundry Love Huntington Beach will take place June 13th 2015.

The evening will feature live performances, a silent auction featuring local artists and businesses, raffles, food and drinks and more!  
The night will culminate with a performance by A Surrogate Band- a tribute to the music of Pink Floyd featuring tunes from Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall.

Laundry Love seeks to help people who are struggling financially by providing regular laundry service free of charge.

All of the evening’s proceeds will be given directly to benefit Laundry Love Huntington Beach in order to maintain services provided as well as enable hosting efforts to plant additional Laundry Love services in laundromats around the region.

June 13th, 2015 5-9:30 p.m.

5 p.m.- Happy Hour- Patio
6 p.m.- Love is Simple-A Tribute to LaundryLove . 
7 p.m.- Taco Bar
8 p.m.-Surrogate Band- Pink Floyd Tribute

All ages welcome.  Price for the performances is pay- what- you- can.

WHERE: Saint Wilfrid of York Episcopal Church
                  18631 Chapel Lane
                  Huntington Beach, CA 92646

CONTACT:  For more information please contact Sarah Winney at LLBenefit2015@gmail.com.

LaundryLove: Who's Helping Who?

There's a bumper sticker rolling down the roadways on any variety of cars that says, "Who rescued who?"  The first time I saw it, it gave me a chuckle.  But it also stayed with me.  I found it a humorous little  example of grace and humility, the recognition that love can only exist as a circuit.  Yes, gifts are involved.  And who doesn't love giving gifts and seeing the delight on the face of the recipient when the giver recognizes that they nailed it!  But what of the receiver?  What if they never have the opportunity, beyond perhaps a thank you note, to reciprocate?  How long before the receiver becomes defeated, infantalized, or entitled?  What then?

I had a moment to consider this when the 13th anniversary of LaundryLove took place this weekend. I was unable to attend, but followed the posts with rapt attention.  One of the things I would have participated in had I gone was a lip-syncing contest in which the winner would be able to earn $1000 for their chapter of LaundryLove.  They needed a lead syncer who had to be male and there really was only one choice.  This particular person is pretty introverted, but a huge supporter of LaundryLove.  For the last three years of LaundryLove, he has become our official greeter, talking to people, getting to know them, initiating help for them. There's little he wouldn't do to earn that money.

Now lip-syncing as a completely exaggerated and comedic star was definitely not on his bucket list.  For the most part, this guy is a behind the scenes sort.  But motivated by his desire for that cash for our cause, by the faces of the people we have al come to know and love, he did it.  And he didn't do it as a shy guy.  I don't know if the syncing gave ways to singing, but if it did, he belted it.  As Julie Bryant commented, he ROCKED it.  I saw a picture of him with his arms thrown out wide, lost in the moment and I thought, "Who's helping who?"  Indeed.  This is LaundryLove. It's about love.  It flows both ways.  It creates a circuit that improves all of us.

Yeah.  We do laundry.  But that is only the beginning.  For everyone.

A long time ago, I read a book about someone's near death experience.  For all I know, the whole thing could be fabricated, but even in fiction, sometimes truth does not depend on fact.  The excerpt I remember went something like this.  The person and a spiritual guide are on a busy downtown street.  On the sidewalk sat a homeless person, bereft, reduced to picking garbage and asking for change.  The guide asked the near death person what she saw.  She said that she saw a bum.  Then a nicely dressed man with a brief case walked past them.  "What do you see there?" he asked.  "I see a successful man," she said.  The guide tells her, "Those two souls are best friends in the spiritual realm, and agreed to take on these lives.  They knew that the life of the homeless man would be painful and difficult, but the agreement was that the "bum" would inspire the "successful man" to start a program to help homeless veterans because of the compassion he aroused in his friend.  That bum is the noble soul."

Come on down to LaundryLove.  Come to meet some "noble souls" and I don't mean us.  We just help with laundry.  Our guests make us better people.  We meet on the second Wednesday of every month at 6:30 to do laundry and so much more.

And as our super lip-syncer always reminds me, there's a "Donate" button on this page, if you want to share your good fortune.  We sincerely, and with great verve, accept and appreciate your kindness.

Turning the Tide

"Tonight I get to sleep in a clean sleeping bag in my car.  You have no idea what that means to me."  The woman reached out and hugged me, just one of the many "thank-you's" of the evening.

Another one said, "It can only go up from here, right?"  His red eyes and creased brow provided a window into his distress.  I think he expected me to leave.  I stood next to the washer and waited.  "I just got evicted from my storage facility.  It's the third one.  They don't want the homeless there.  I think I'm just going to take all of my stuff and sell it at the swap meet."  This is frequently how the story goes.  It starts with a streak of bad luck or bad decisions and one failure leads to another, taking with it more and more of their self-esteem.  Pretty soon people start seeing themselves the way other people see them, unwanted and without value.  He swallowed hard.  "Thanks for listening.  And thanks for this.  You don't now how much it helps."

Paul, one of our regulars, the one with the fanciful backpack, stuffs laundry in a machine in his usual abrupt way.  One month he came and got into a fight with someone and left.  The next month, he came back and apologized.  He's been a model LaundryLove citizen since.  "You guys do a good thing here," he told me.  "Thank you so much."  And there you have it.  Those little moments of love among the laundry.

In our introduction, we warn our volunteers to not leave their bag of quarters lying around.  Between you and me, I've done it.  Every time, it is where I left it or it's been returned by a guest.  I still don't advise it because I think I've partially been lucky.  But it's also how things are between friends.  There's mutual respect.  We know one another.

In my everyday life, I'm a psychologist.  I've seen lots of hurting people and I've been privileged to watch them get better.  I'm convinced that it's not just my amazing skill that facilitates the process.  What I have seen more than anything is that it is infinitely more healing to listen and care.  Without that, people could have read the latest self help book and gotten better on their own.  It's like that at LaundryLove.  We could stand on a corner, offering money for groceries, a meal, and laundry.  We could do that and never know their face or their stories.  They would probably not remember ours.  But these people, we know them.  They are our friends.  They are ours and we theirs.

This past month, a camper that had been parked in the WalMart parking lot caught fire.  Someone drove it to a spot where it wouldn't harm anyone else.  A woman inside of it died.  I asked Shannon if she knew if the woman was one of ours.  "Yes, by association."  I guess the truth is they are all "one of ours."

If you want to join us, come on down.  Second Wednesday of every month at the Laundromat on the corner of Beach and Garfield in Huntington Beach, right next to the Honey Baked Ham store.  There's food and music and fun and laundry.  Lots of laundry.  If you would like to donate, the donate button is on this page or bring something with you.  We are entirely volunteer run and need all the help we can get.  Get to know the family.  There will be faces and stories you remember for a long time.

A Happy Mess

Our group can get a little messy, not messy like we don't clean up after ourselves, but busy with people.  By 6 PM on the evening of LaundryLove HB, a line circles the building.  We start distributing groceries to those in line, who come in one at a time and partake of the supplies from the Second Harvest Food Bank.  Sometimes we get lucky on the fresh produce and sometimes less so.  There are a lot of vehicles in the parking lot also.  We try to be good neighbors and most people support us, but sometime the local restaurants get a little nervous about the size of the crowd and fearful they might drive away customers, so this month, we ordered food from the nearby (next door) Malaysian restaurant and it smelled delicious.  General report from those who dined verified that the taste was equal to the aroma.

We at LaundryLove look forward to the 2nd Wednesday of the month, when our "family" gathers to catch up with one another, do laundry, pick up some extra food, share a meal and get a haircut.  We like to include the neighbors whenever we can.  Thai Gulf has always been very open and supportive of our endeavors and the barber next-door offers haircuts at a discount for LaundryLove.  It's a community effort.

This week we were missing one of our primary organizers and voice of the operation, Shannon Kassoff.  Instead, I took over her position.  It was a busy night and most of it went by in quite a blur.  I'd become so accustomed to dashing about and answering questions that when I heard someone say something, I responded as if they were asking a question.  I was greeted by a big smile.  "I was saying, 'hi,'" he said.  I laughed.  I almost forgot that this is the most important part of LaundryLove, the people, the friends we make, the feeling of care and comradery we experience with one another.  It's not a job.  It's a relationship.  I'd forgotten for a moment, so I stopped and talked.

We gather at the corner of Beach Blvd and Garfield, at the laundromat next to the Honey Baked Ham Cafe.  We are run entirely by volunteers and appreciate all and any donations.  There is a donate button on this page.  We also welcome any volunteers.  That is our main objective, not only to help people wash their clothes, but also to get to know them, to allow them to get to know us.  Not long ago someone asked Shannon if he could do anything for us, wash our cars or something.  She said we had what we needed.  He said, "That's the problem with these programs.  There's never a way to give back."  It set us all to thinking.  This last month, I had the privilege of joining a mission trip to Nicaragua.  While in a remote village, one of the women offered to wash clothes for us, which she did.  Being a servant means allowing others to serve also. Here is a picture of LaundryLove Cumaica Norte Nicaragua.

The Dignity of Being Known

We are entered our fourth year of LaundryLove this month!  Hard to believe.  We celebrated with a dinner at St. Wilfrid's parish hall on Sunday, January 18th.  All love and food and no laundry.  Just an opportunity to fellowship with volunteers, guests, and anyone else who might be interested in our program and peeps.

During our three years, we have come to know many members of the community we may not have known otherwise.  One of these people is Vicki, who celebrated her birthday with us on her birthday on January 14th.  Happy Birthday, Vicki!  We've had the good fortune to celebrate several peoples' birthdays with us since we began in January of 2012.

One thing we have fortunately avoided until now has been the permanent loss of one of our guests.  Five days before LaundryLove in January, one of our regular attendees lost her life after having been hit by a car on Beach Blvd in Huntington Beach, just down the street from our project.  The driver stayed at the scene, but our friend, Cheryl, died instantly on impact.  We received this news from her brother, another LaundryLove guest.  We grieve the loss of someone we have come to know and care about and who had become a member of our family.  This is a link to a brief article about the incident. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/street-647832-struck-pierce.html  Rest in peace, dear Cheryl.

Our program is simple and well-received.  One night a month, a slow night for the laundromat, we take over that laundromat and provide quarters, soap, dryer sheets, fellowship, music, groceries, and a hot meal for anyone needing an opportunity to do their laundry for free!  The idea started about a decade ago by a group in Ventura who wanted to do something to help people struggling with homelessness to make their lives easier and to show them they cared.  They asked a man what would help him.  His response, he thought that people would treat him like a person if he had clean clothes.  Moved by his plight, they began what has become a national movement.  We are grateful for their idea and we have copied it with gratitude.

We are completely run by volunteers and via donations.  Should you want to contribute to our cause, you may use the "donate" button on this page.  If you wish to join us, please come on down.  Next LaundryLove is on Tuesday, February 11 at the laundromat on the corner of Beach Blvd and Garfield Avenue in Huntington Beach, right next to the Honey Baked Ham store.  Spread a little love.  Do a little laundry.  We would love to see you!

Holidays at LaundryLove HB

Happy Christmas to our wonderful friends, supporters, and all of you we have yet to meet.  Every second Wednesday, the laundromat at the corner of Beach and Garfield in Huntington Beach turns into a party, with bags of food free for the taking, a haircut for those who need one, and a home cooked dinner served.  We have music, do laundry, and share the fun with lots of guests.  This month we were able to provide yet another service to the usual treats.  For Christmas, we were able to provide each patron with a gift card to a discount store to help with their holiday purchases.

It has become a tradition for the teachers and families from St Wilfrid's Preschool to cook and serve the traditional Christmas meal and this year, the youth group also got involved, plating the faire and getting to know our guests and crew.  Our family is ever expanding and we love seeing them every month, and sometimes in between, as most of us live locally.

Running back and forth between guests and machines sometimes the night becomes a blur of familiar faces of many people I've come to know and love and new friends as well.  This month, I was struck how guest after guest brought in bags of clothes that had been soaked by the recent rains and smelled of mildew.  "There's no shelter at the park," explained one.  Really, no shelter at all.  In two short days, it was supposed to rain again.

As a teenager, I worked at a coffee shop in downtown Milwaukee, where many homeless and lonely people came to sit at our counter and have a hot cup of coffee.  Meg never charged them.  They were a different lot,  one lanky black man would stand up in the middle of the restaurant, preaching the word of God, another lonely older woman, the pink lady we called her cause that's how she dressed, came in and ordered two dinners and chatted with her imaginary guest.  An old Greek man, small and fail, would take my arm and, with a shaky hand point to me and say, "Blondie, you are my favorite girlfriend."  He always made me smile with his mischievous ways and crinkle eyed smile.  I learned later that he slept on the bus, which ran all night and took about an hour and a half to complete its route.  No shelter in the park or in the city.

It's a little better here, even though right now it's growing cold, by Southern California standards.  Tomorrow it's set to rain again. At home at night, when it starts to rain,  I open my windows to listen and crawl back  to bed, between my down comforter and flannel sheets.  I have shelter.  And I am grateful for that.

The nights at LaundryLove have grown longer.  We are finding ourselves having to limit loads, something we didn't have to do for the first couple of years.  People arrive earlier and earlier, assuming a place in line as early as 12:30 in the afternoon for a start time of 7 or so.  Families, singles, women, men, the angry, the hopeless, and the grateful cue up and they get to do their laundry and we get to know love.

This is how LuandryLove works.  We take over a laundromat one time a month, provide soap, quarters, and fabric softener sheets and the other services I already talked about.  People who need the help come and do their laundry.  They don't need to listen to a sermon.  We don't ask them to verify need.  Being poor is bad enough without adding that humiliation.  And if by chance someone is rich and wants to wait 6 hours in line to do their laundry, that's ok.  They too are served.  There is a "Donate" button on this page.  We are a local group completely volunteer, so if you would like to help us and all of our friends who need to do laundry, please consider a donation.  We really appreciate it.  These donations have allowed us to increase our services to what we have today.  You are also welcome to come down and join us at any time.  We would love to see you.  The best of the holidays to all.