The machines are back up and spinning sudsy loads of clothes at Laundry Love, the west Vancouver laundromat offering free laundry for people in need on Thursdays. The laundromat was closed for about seven months after a Dodge Charger plowed backward into the glass front of the building at 2101 St. Johns Blvd. last spring.
“I always knew that people depended on this laundromat and that they needed it,” said Jason Snyder, the laundromat’s owner. “Really, truly us being out of business was a huge deal. …It was really humbling to discover that.”
Single mom Maria Mendez, while doing her laundry Thursday, said she went to Laundry Love a couple of times before the crash while she was homeless. She did laundry at her friend’s house before the laundromat reopened.
“I don’t have money sometimes to do laundry. This helps a lot,” said Mendez, who now has an apartment nearby.
Her daughter Lina Mendez said she likes how Laundry Love helps people whether they need to do laundry or they’re hungry or thirsty.
“When they offered me soup I was like ‘What? They serve soup?'” she said. “I like it. You come and meet people.”
Laundry Love is an initiative at laundromats around the country sponsored by churches and charitable groups. The Vancouver location is sponsored by Break Every Chain Foundation, Word of Freedom Ministries and the laundromat itself; Vancouver’s initiative, which started in 2010, is different from others in that one of the sponsors owns and operates the laundromat.
This provides some room to change things up and expand.
Snyder said Laundry Love is starting a voucher program next month through Vancouver Public School’s Family-Community Resource Centers so that school families and students in need can do laundry for free on days other than Thursday.
Army veteran Miguel Bagley did laundry at his apartment while the laundromat was being repaired. He comes mostly for the people.
“They’re so friendly and it’s close to my house,” he said. “I just wish there were more people like this.”
DeAnna Burch, 20, who has a 9-month-old baby, said the free laundry nights help.
“Babies are expensive,” said Burch. She lives down the street from Laundry Love. “Where we live it costs almost $4 to do laundry.”
Lots of people pitched in after the building was damaged. James Williams, who was doing his laundry on Thursday, is a longtime customer and helped paint and pick up trash after the crash.
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 backward into the laundromat. A deputy with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office had 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.
Since then, the 17-year-old driver was convicted of attempting to elude police and taking a motor vehicle without permission. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail, along with a year of probation, restitution and community service.
The crash damaged the front half of the building, which had to be repaired and brought up to code. Insurance covered the costs of repair.
Laundry Love reopened in November while minor repairs were still being made, and then the free Thursdays started back up a few weeks ago. There are still a couple of machines that have to be replaced.
Snyder said he’ll eventually extend the laundromat’s hours to 11 p.m. Currently, business hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.