Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Volunteers are spreading 'Laundry Love' across cityBy KATIE McQUAID
July 10. 2016 7:50PM
When a group of people picked up the bill for everyone at a Manchester laundromat one evening early this year, it didn’t take long for word to get out.
Now there’s often a line of people waiting to clean their dirty clothes the first Tuesday of each month at Granite State Laundry.
Grace Episcopal Church’s Laundry Love program was started by Brian Guimond. The concept is spreading through Episcopal churches across the country, fulfilling the church’s mission to get out and share Christ’s love in the community.
It’s simple. Laundromats are expensive and for some families, it can come down to a choice between washing their clothes or paying a bill.
Laundry Love helps lighten that load.
City resident Erin Lavelle has four children and can spend up to $100 a month on laundry.
“This saved me,” said Lavelle, who was visibly appreciative of the $23 she was able to save at last Tuesday’s Laundry Love. “For a household of four children, that’s amazing. That’s a day trip somewhere, or an electric bill.”
Granite State Laundry is bright, clean and inviting, with an undeniable vibe of happiness on Laundry Love nights. The team from Grace Episcopal Church, wearing red shirts with identifying Laundry Love stickers, walk around assigning washers and dryers and use prepaid cards to cover the costs.
Some evenings, Guimond said, Grace Episcopal’s Rev. Marjorie A. Gerbracht-Stagnaro brings goodie bags for the kids and helps keep them entertained while parents do the laundry.
The volunteers are not there to push religion or church attendance, Guimond said. “It’s helping us get out of our comfort zone and into the community.”
The church has paid for almost 1,400 loads of laundry since the program started in January. The average cost is about $700 a month.
Grace Episcopal Church has agreed to fund the initial Laundry Love location for a year, but the group has plans to continue and expand the program. A big player in those plans is John Pelich, manager of Granite State Laundry.
Pelich has embraced the concept, and not just because it brings in a nice chunk of change on a normally slow night at the 386 Union St. laundromat.
He said he loves to see the difference it is making in the lives of Manchester families, and plans to help the church raise money and bring Laundry Love to other laundromats around the city.
“This is a gold mine for another laundromat,” Pelich said. He would really like to see a second location somewhere on the West Side and would share the procedure that has been fine-tuned to make the program run smoothly.
“It was a disaster the first two months,” Pelich admits. But he and Guimond, along with other volunteers like Hank Gagnon and Linda Heath, have worked out a system to help as many people as possible wash their clothes and bedding between 6 and 9 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month.
To make a donation to help expand Grace Episcopal Church’s Laundry Love program, send a check to Grace Episcopal Church, 106 Lowell St., Manchester, NH 03101. Be sure to write “Laundry Love” in the memo line.
NH365.org event of the week
Blues Traveler provided the soundtrack to my college years in the 1990. It’s hard to believe the band that brought us hits like “Hook,” “Run-around,” and “But Anyway,” is playing at the Palace Theatre this Friday, July 15.
The Grammy winning band, led by the unforgettable John Popper, is touring to promote its 11th album, “Blow Up the Moon.”
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets start at $40.50. For more information about Blues Traveler’s new album and other ticket options, visit www.NH365.org.
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