2nd Wednesdays at 6pm Beach Coin Laundry 19072 Beach Bl (x Garfield) Huntington Beach

Carrying Burdens Made Light

They lined up early, as early as 3 PM for a 7:30 event, our little group, sometimes stretching down an entire side of a building and around the corner.  Backpacks, duffel bags, plastic bags, any sort of laundry conveyances sit nearby.  One night a month, the struggle to find enough quarters to do a load of laundry is relieved.  One night, there is dinner enough to feed all.  And this month, there was even a bag of groceries to take home, wherever that might be.

Since January, 2012, Thom's has sponsored "LaundryLove HB," a simple idea that we didn't invent.  People with the need, or people who just want their laundry done for free since we don't turn anyone away or ask embarrassing questions, line up for a chance to get a little help and friendship and do their laundry.

This month, we were honored to have Anthony Carpici from the Huntington Beach Independent newspaper attend and document our project.  Here is the link.
Thanks, Anthony!  It was nice getting a little local attention.

This month, for me, was one of those experiences that reminded me of how hard it can be to help.  My first guest of the evening was an anxious, intense woman (usually my specialty) who was demanding, entitled and didn't like other women much.  Eventually, she got a bunch of young guys to help her, which I have to admit was kind of a relief, but also made me reflect on how difficult it can be to be helped.

Many, many of the people we serve are so grateful.  We get lots of thanks, tons of blessings, and too many hugs to count.  One man brought his taco truck the next month to pay us back for helping him through a rough spot.  People know our names.  They ask about our lives.  It's usually fairly warm and friendly.  But being helped is tricky.  Without sensitivity, and sometimes even with sensitivity, people whose pride has been injured by misfortune or shame from finding themselves in this position show it by haughtiness or anger at those reaching out.  Sometimes it takes a strong call to my higher self to not retaliate, to try to understand, to not react.  This was one of those evenings.  It made me remember a time a few decades ago when I needed help.

It was Christmas.  I'd lost my job, was a single parent to a six year-old boy, and a decent Christmas was going to be a struggle.  A couple of people showed up at my door with Christmas presents.  A warm scene, one might think.  It took me awhile to figure out what was happening and when it did, of course I thanked them, but also felt a little insulted that they thought I would not find a way to see that my son would have a good Christmas.  I hope I let them have their joy at giving.  But sometimes it's hard to receive.

I listened to this woman's story.  Lucky for me, I love peoples' stories.  She had seen better times, far better times until she had a series of serious car accidents a couple of years ago.  The second one was disabling and her daughter was still in the hospital after more than 6 months as a result of it.  She'd lived in a nice home with all of the conveniences most of us enjoy before this series of tragedies, but now, she lived in a compact sedan.  Being helped can be a bitter pill to swallow and we all do so with different levels of grace.

Sometimes helping is hard.  Sometimes the burdens we carry are harder to see.

Once again, we had a lovely complement of volunteers.  Thanks to all and to all who contribute and make our event possible.  We'll keep showing up on the second Wednesday of every month at 7 PM or before.  And any of you is welcome as well, if you need laundry done, or if you want to lend a hand.  If you can't make it and want to add a little to the kitty, there is a donate button on this page and we would be so grateful for your help.

Blessings to all.  See you at the laundromat at Beach and Garfield next to the Honey Baked Ham store!