Becoming the “Laundry lady”

By Carrie Arnold

I’ve had aspirations to be many different things in my life, but never did being a “laundry lady” present itself as an enticing option until Covid 19 came upon the scene. I am here to tell you what a profound impact that embracing the role of laundry lady for the Spring Lake site guests has had on my life, and on my husband, Bob’s as well.

First, I have never personally experienced homelessness or want or need.  I have always had choices, way too many choices, when I go to the grocery store. And I have always been a “scents” person.  I’m one of those who opens the shampoo bottles or laundry detergents/fabric softeners and sniffs to make sure I like what I smell.  I have taken these options for granted…

But not anymore. Early in our first week of laundry duty, one of the guys met me at the door and told me that the sheets he had put on his bed mat smelled so good.  Another said that his clothes smelled so fresh.  Kindred spirits!  Another guest asked me if I would wash his shoes, and while he was taking the laces out, we sat together and he told me that one of the things he misses most about having his own place is the ability to choose what laundry detergent he will use.  He takes pride in his clothing and has to entrust it to someone else to launder it and I sensed that caused him a bit of stress. My eyes are opened anew the impacts of experiencing homelessness…

So we take extra care with the clothing that’s entrusted to us.  As we take it out of the dryer and fold it, we hold its owner in our hearts and put extra love and care into each shirt, sock, and pair of jeans.  It’s been so good to match names on laundry bags with real people when we pick up and drop off and I look forward to our quick chats as the guys help to load up the car.  I am grateful that Covid has enabled me to be “laundry lady” for this awesome group of men.  Together we are St. John’s.

Contact Volunteer Coordinator Brooke Graham for more information about volunteer opportunities during the COVID-19 crisis:

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