Laundry Love has gotten a lot of love from nearby residents and volunteers since a Dodge Charger careened through its front door last spring.
The building’s front facade has since been repaired and business owner Jason Snyder aims to reopen the place Nov. 1. It depends on how long it takes volunteers to put the finishing touches on Laundry Love, a coin-operated laundromat in Vancouver’s Rose Village neighborhood known for offering free laundry every Thursday.
On Monday, volunteers Roy Baird and Steve Folmar were repainting the interior walls.
“The community really does depend on this a lot,” Baird said.
Every Thursday night Laundry Love offered two free loads of laundry per person and provided the laundry detergent, dryer sheets and snacks. Churches and charitable groups sponsored some nights where upwards of 60 or so people showed up to do laundry. Manager Jackie James also accommodated people who couldn’t make it out to the laundromat on Thursdays. It was one of the only places homeless people could do laundry for free.
Those free laundry nights will be back up and running whenever the business reopens.
“A stereotype of a neighborhood like this is that people are always looking for the free things, the next entitlement or whatever. For the most part, the people who use our free laundry nights, they desperately need it,” Snyder said. “It’s amazing how many of them when they use it they say, ‘This is so humbling to me, but the minute things turn around I’m a paying customer.'”
Some people offer a dollar or 50 cents — whatever they can afford. A veteran who walked by said he currently has nowhere to do his laundry. Once Laundry Love reopens, he said he’ll be a paying customer again.
“Everything that’s made this place great has made it that much easier to go through the whole rebuild process and have an attitude that it’s going to be better when it’s all said and done,” Snyder said.
Lots of people have been willing to help out, whether it’s helping paint or keeping a watchful eye on the damaged building.
Early in the morning on May 7, a Dodge Charger crashed into planter boxes and sheared off a telephone pole before spinning around and plowing backwards into the glass front of the building at 2101 St. Johns Blvd. About 10 minutes prior, a deputy with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office initiated a pursuit after seeing the Charger driving recklessly on Northeast 88th Street without headlights on. However, the pursuit was terminated moments before the driver lost control.
“There was nothing left of the car. He’s lucky to be alive,” Sgt. Brent Waddell said.
Since then, the 17-year-old was convicted of attempting to elude police and taking a motor vehicle without permission, which are both felonies, Waddell said. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail, along with a year of probation, restitution and community service. He has a restitution hearing next month. His name was not released.
The crash basically damaged the front half of the building, which had to be repaired and brought up to code. Insurance covered the costs of repair. Snyder pointed out some patched-up spots along the wall where the front door impaled the wall.
“One of the unintended blessings of all this, is it kind of gives us an opportunity to recast and re-envision what this place could be,” Snyder said.
That could be a voucher system that would enable someone to come in another time besides Thursday nights and get laundry done for free. Not everyone can make it Thursday nights. The business hours will likely stay the same, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, though those could expand in the future.
“The better it works as a business, the better it will serve the community,” Snyder said.
Vancouver’s Laundry Love started in late 2010. Laundry Love has dozens of locations around the country where an organization or church steps in one night to cover the cost of doing laundry. Camas Friends Church and St. Anne’s Episcopal Church sponsor Laundry Love every first and third Thursday at Riverside Laundry in Washougal.