WSVN Miami | Karen Hensel & Darcelle Hall | November 10, 2023
(WSVN) – Most of us probably think doing our laundry is a chore, but for others, it’s a luxury. Some families can no longer afford the price of keeping their clothes clean, so a South Florida group is helping to wash those troubles away. Karen Hensel has today’s 7 Spotlight.
Imagine going weeks without clean clothes or a clean blanket. It’s a reality for many South Florida families.
Rich Markiewicz, coordinator, Laundry Love South Florida: “They don’t make enough money, especially with the cost of rents and food and everything else.”
Rich Markiewicz is the coordinator of Laundry Love South Florida. It’s an organization that provides free laundry services for low-income and homeless families.
The idea came to him four years ago after a meeting with a church leader.
Rich Markiewicz: “She told us about the things that they did to help the homeless and poor in their neighborhood. I asked her, ‘If there was one thing you could do that you don’t currently do, what would that be?’ And she said, ‘Cleaning clothes for our clients.’”
He did some research, and came across an organization called the National Laundry Love Association.
Rich Markiewicz: “I was convinced that I wanted to kind of recreate what they were doing.”
Rich and members of his church formed Laundry Love South Florida.
With the help of donations, the group provides the detergent, and dollars, to help families wash their clothes once a month at a laundromat in Hollywood.
Rich Markiewicz: “We do closer to 300, 400 loads of laundry a month, so it’s grown a lot.”
Rich recently expanded Laundry Love South Florida to two other cities: Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale.
Billy Salter helped launch the Fort Lauderdale location last month.
Billy Salter: “To be able to be a part of providing some level of support for the folks in the community means a tremendous deal to me.”
For three hours, the laundromat was packed as guests were able to wash their clothes, shoes, even bedding, all for free.
Ashley Kendrick, Laundry Love guest: “It took a load off for me this week, and I’m really thankful.”
In the first hour alone, more than a dozen people got their clothes washed and dried.
Kerry Herndon, Laundry Love guest: “I have been homeless for 14 years. This is a blessing, really, you know what I mean? To help keep us looking decent.”
Billy says seeing so many people who needed help was a humbling experience.
Billy Salter: “We’re not doing anything massive, but for someone to come in and visit us and allow us to help them get clean clothes and leave feeling like they have a little more dignity when they leave than when they came, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Along with a basket of clean clothes and a free meal, Rich says many of the guests also leave the laundromat with a renewed sense of hope.
Rich Markiewicz: And just the fact, sleeping on clean sheets, having clean clothes to put on in the morning, is terrific.”
And for so many, a little love goes a long way.