Imagine your child going to school without clean clothes. The reality is the cost of using a commercial laundromat can be prohibitive to some members of the community who live only blocks away from Rockcliffe Park. The Community Laundry Co-Operative is a non-profit and social enterprise based at Heartwood House on McArthur Avenue. It primarily serves the Vanier and Overbrook neighborhoods.
For a two-dollar annual membership fee, members can do laundry for only two dollars a load, including soap and supplies. But the co-op doesn’t stop there. It is staffed by an on-site social service worker who provides counselling, personalized support and referrals to a membership that includes many seniors, single parents, new Canadians, and people living with physical, developmental and mental health challenges.
In addition to helping alleviate the effects of poverty – more than 95% of members live below the poverty line – there are also health, emotional and social benefits that come with clean clothes. Holly Peterson, a single mother, explains what this means to her: “My kids may not have the same opportunities as other kids, but at least I know they aren’t getting bullied for wearing dirty clothes.”
The dignity that comes with being able to wash your clothes is echoed by another member who first came to the co-op after receiving a free laundry voucher from a local shelter. He credits the co-op with helping him find stable housing and providing a community that got him through some difficult times.
By combining access to laundry and support in a non-judgmental and friendly environment, a lot can happen during the wash and dry and fold cycles. Members can make new friends, participate in member led events, get support and volunteer. Before COVID-19, volunteers contributed more than 3,000 hours a year helping other members and maintaining the facilities.
The co-op is growing our Community Impact Laundry social enterprise that offers wash-and-fold fold laundry services to local businesses. Through it, we are increasing the job-training and employment opportunities offered to marginalized community members.
This month, the co-op is launching a three-month fundraising campaign. All funds raised go directly to supporting our vision of affordable laundry and social support for the most vulnerable in our community. Join us in enabling dignity for everyone who comes through our doors by visiting us at communitylaundrycoop.ca.