By Annika Morschauser
GREEN BAY – A local nonprofit is creating a community environment while providing a basic need for those without access.
Laundry Love is an organization that sets up free events in laundromats for community members to wash their clothing and bedding.
There are over 300 initiatives throughout the country that provide this service, some of which are nonprofits, including the one in Green Bay.
The initiative in Green Bay was started by Natashia Atkinson, lead director, and her mom, Jean, back in April of 2018.
They were looking for a way to contribute to the community by starting a nonprofit that addressed a need within Green Bay.
“We set out to find something that we could do in our community that wasn’t necessarily reinventing a new wheel but that was very helpful to neighbors, especially in the area of basic needs and something that someone wasn’t already doing,” Atkinson explained.
The nonprofit consists of a small team of volunteers that make up the staff.
They hold a free laundry event every fourth Friday from 5:30-9 p.m. at Corner Coin Laundry, located on Mather Street in Green Bay.
They provide a home-cooked meal, quarters, laundry detergent, dryer sheets and neighborly love and care, such as conversation and support for everyone who attends.
Atkinson added, “We’ve learned that the laundromat is one of the most diverse places in the city, and it’s amazing to watch the community come together in the laundromat. And friendships have been started or relationships have been sparked and everyone gets to know everyone else. That’s been a really beautiful thing.”
In addition to the Laundry Love events, they hold other events and hand out laundry bundles, which have soap pods and dryer sheets in them, to other organizations that can distribute them to community members.
Before COVID-19, they held an event called Elder Love where they’d go to senior living apartments and help them with their laundry, as laundry can be rather expensive in those buildings and because they might not be physically able to collect and haul their laundry to the washers and dryers.
The nonprofit is currently looking into starting a new event called Veteran Love.
Atkinson said that these events couldn’t have happened without the support, donations and volunteers from a variety of people within the community, including Corner Coin Laundry for opening their doors to host the events.
They accept donations of detergent, soap pods, dryer sheets, money which gets turned into quarters, food for meals and anything else that could be of use.
But it’s more than just laundry as Atkinson said, “We see neighbors from all walks of life, so that means we see some of our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. We see neighbors who are single parents. We see elderly neighbors who quite frankly often come and they’re just lonely. They want to come and connect with us and gather with us and eat with us. Sometimes our Laundry Love events are merely for a person to make a connection with someone else.”
They can see the impact their nonprofit has had on those who attend the events.
“For our organization, being able to provide clean clothing for our community and our neighbors who have that need offers our community and neighbors dignity. It offers neighbors a way to maybe get or keep a job. It offers children opportunities to go to school and not worry about that issue… We’re here to make an impact on this basic need that affects so many things in a person’s life,” Atkinson added.
For more information, visit https://www.laundrylovegreenbay.org.