I really wasn't really sure what to expect last night, but I'm not sure I was prepared for most of what I walked away with. That was probably one of the most moving experiences with people who really are just struggling to find their next meal or are walking out the door back headed back to their tent where they live.
So many people with so many stories and they shared them freely with us. Not really sure why, but for some reason just by putting a few quarters in a laundry machine, people opened up their lives to us and engaged us. Lots of questions about why we were doing this or was this a "church" or "research" project. Once we put their minds at rest that it wasn't a "church" or "research" project, they seemed to relax a bit.
We heard stories of people with college degrees and 20 year careers that now just have a backpack, 16 year old mom with a 7 month old baby that lives in a tent. We had people asking us "is this for real?". A story from a man who has cleaned up his life from dealing and using drug's and is now trying to help other people clean up their lives, stories of the elderly on fixed incomes with one lady who comes in almost every other day to wash her clothes by hand in the sink because she doesn't have enough clothes to wait too long between wearing....and the list just goes on and on.
We even had one person who goes by the name "Preacher" sit outside on his motorcycle and just watch us. Afterwards, he came in and said something to the effect of "I heard about this and just wanted to come down and see if you were for real and what your agenda was." After talking and interviewing him on camera, he said, "you have no idea how much this can help the homeless here in Fayetteville, but you have to be in a place to be committed and consistent before they will trust you enough come down here".
In all, we probably helped 30 people, washed 60 to 70 loads of laundry, and were asked many times "when are you doing this again because I'll wait to do my laundry again till then".
It was a very moving experience...and by extending a little common grace to some fellow broken people, I found myself seeing the image of their creator shine a little brighter.
Thanks for all those that helped make this possible from donations of laudry detergent, fabric softener, color safe bleach (a bit hit) to donations of quarters and time.
Thanks to Ryan & Julie Rusch for sending a note a few months back that simple said, we would like to take the lead and see if we can help make this idea become reality.
Anyone available on Oct 3rd?
For details on how you can help send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the Laundry Love Project Initiative page and we'll be in touch.