Laundry Angels: Texas Nonprofit Partners with Homeless Shelters to Provide Mobile Laundry Services
Ebonie Trice grew up in Gary, Indiana, where she was raised in a church that ran a shelter and food pantry for those in need, so, a love for serving the community was instilled in her at a young age.
After moving to Texas a decade ago, Trice wanted to get involved in helping those in her new community as she had at home. As the homelessness crisis increased in Austin, Trice looked for ways to provide basic necessities to those who were lacking them.
“I started personally thinking about how often I can wash [clothes],” she told KXAN. “I have a washer and dryer in my home, and it’s easy if I wanted to wash every day or every other day. But something as simple as that, we take for granted.”
That’s when the idea for Mission Accomplished came to her. When the organization began in 2014, Trice and her volunteers would go to homelessness camps to collect dirty clothes and take them to a laundromat to wash them. Then, the group evolved to creating laundry kits to give to those in need, partnering with local churches and their in-house washers and dryers.
When the pandemic hit, the group had to pivot once more. “You’re trying to keep your volunteers safe but you also want to still help, and so it became a real big challenge,” she said. “But then we started running into where [laundromat] owners didn’t want that look in their facilities, and so they didn’t want us to have — to have an overload of individuals experiencing homelessness in their facility. So then we had to take a pause. And it was like, OK, what do we do?”
Trice partnered with Lighter Loads ATX and its founders, James and Laura Rice, and created the Laundry Angels on Wheels program — a mobile laundry trailer that travels to shelters to provide services and meet people exactly where they are at.
In addition to laundry services, Mission Accomplished provides food and water, 24-hour bus passes, gift cards, clothing and toiletry items.
Trice is thankful she is able to meet people face-to-face more often now. “It’s such a different impact right now because we get to, like, talk to them,” she said, adding: “It’s just like, the realness of it, and then you get to see them all the time.”
Image source: Spectrum News