November was a true banner month for LaundryLove HB. We started our project by simply providing the means and space for people to do their laundry, and it has expanded to include a hot meal, grocery distribution, haircuts, and toys. This month, we added entertainment for kids by guest volunteer, Larry Budner who is a child psychiatrist. He sat with a group of little ones and kept them entertained so their parents could attend to either waiting in the extremely long line, or getting the wash done. Thank, Larry! How easily and well you slipped into the spirit of it all.
We had many return volunteers, and this was a month we needed "all hands on deck." We have yet to turn anyone away from LL, but the time may have come when we need to limit the number of loads people are able to complete. This makes us sad, since we all love saying "yes" to people, but we may no longer be able to accommodate the need.
One of our friends, Paul, brought his "home" with him, a backpack decorated with a stuffed opossum and flamingo. I think of how we all do this, decorate our homes to personalize them, make them ours. He stood next to his backpack and allowed me to snap a photo of him.
It's kind of funny to me, after all this time, how people refer to "The Homeless," as if they were a homogenous group instead of a bunch of individuals, out on the street for various reasons. The accommodations these folks do in order to make their lives livable while maintaining a level of dignity are astounding. I've known people who carry a menagerie in their donated motor homes, including dogs, cats, and even a parrot (very loud). One woman hung a surfboard on the inside wall of her van, both for use and for decoration. Still others, as one elderly and ill woman I met at our first Christmas celebration, spend the night huddled in the driver' seat of their old cars, surrounded by all they've been able to salvage from their former lives. "I used to live in a big house on Magnolia and Yorktown," she told me. One man told me about his "compound", a copse of trees beside the freeway. "You can't even see it from the street!"
Where will you sleep tonight? Where do you do your laundry? If you are lucky, like me, you have an easy and comfortable answer to this question. A life without these things may be unknown. People that cross your path, slouched and dirty, may make you uncomfortable. One thing I seldom feel at LL is uncomfortable. I feel touched, inspired, broken-hearted, and awestruck at how our friends manage these great burdens.
A woman, Erin Earl, I met via Facebook found herself homeless after 20 years of marriage. Things are much better for her now, but she hasn't forgotten what that was like. She hosts an annual Turkey Bash held, this year, at Valley View Lanes in Garden Grove. You may follow her on Facebook. Here is a video of her story. https://soundcloud.com/garrett-calcaterra/story-of-the-turkey-bash
I'm sure she'd love any help you might offer.
As for us, next month, in addition to a meal, groceries, haircuts, and laundry, we will be offering gift cards. There is a "donate" button on this website. If you would like to help us out with this, we would really appreciate it. It costs about $500 to run a regular night so all and any donations are appreciated. If you would like to come and meet some of our friends, we will be at the laundromat at the corner of Beach and Garfield, next to the Honey Baked Ham store on the second Wednesday of December, the tenth. We'd love to see you. And if hard times have befallen you, bring your laundry, and arrive early!