Reader boosts Laundry Love

Tom KingFarragut

“Laundry Love: Knoxville” touches lives with its monthly clothes washing ministry. About a month ago it touched someone who read our Feb. 20 story about this unique project on the KnoxTNToday.com website – Reneau Howard.

“It’s so funny, and life is so random. I clicked on a link for an article on that KnoxTNToday newsy thing that showed up on my Facebook page and happened to notice the article about Laundry Love,” she wrote to the leaders of Laundry Love – Kevin White and Garland Pope.

“I had never heard of it! I instantly loved the concept though and felt moved to try to help in some way. I think I read and re-read that article at least four times. I couldn’t stop thinking about it! Brilliant idea and so nice that the laundromat owners donate their time and resources to help make it possible.”

What Laundry Love is doing touched her so that Reneau immediately encouraged her Facebook friends to donate and help this project. They did – to the tune of more than $200. That’s a lot considering the annual budget for Laundry Love is $12,000.

If you missed my original article about Laundry Love, here’s a quick review:

White and Pope are friends who attend Northside Church of Christ in Powell. They came up with this free laundry idea in January 2016. Laundry Love offers low-income families and the homeless three loads of free clothes washing and drying on the third Thursday of every month at the Blue Water Laundry, 3721 N. Broadway, starting at 5:30 p.m. The people who come also are offered a meal and there is even a special place for their kids to play. All washing supplies are furnished and volunteers even help fold the clothes.

Howard, who works part-time as a circulation assistant at the Pellissippi State Community College library, explained more about her motivation to help.

“There are at least a good number of resources in our area for the homeless, although I’m not sure there can ever be enough, but it’s the working poor and elderly who don’t seem to get much attention other than negative nasty remarks.

“It seems our culture delights in poor shaming,” she said. “I don’t understand that at all. I was most moved that the target are people who have a roof over their heads but struggle to get by. I firmly believe the poor are under-served and would benefit from more services that still allow them dignity. I love that there are light meals and a sense of community is being formed, and that children are getting involved in volunteerism and hopefully they will grow up to have open minds and hearts.”

Howard knows a little about hard times. She is a single mom and had two sons – Grant and Carson. But the younger son, Carson, died of a traumatic brain injury the day after he was involved in a car accident on Dec. 1, 2008.

“Life turned upside down. I could no longer live in the corporate culture (she worked in middle management with the Whirlpool Corp. for 20 years and retired in 2010). I just don’t tolerate stress anymore. Period.

“I work part-time evenings at the Pellissippi library at the Hardin Valley campus (best job on the planet). It’s certainly not enough to support me and thankfully I have savings to live on to help so I do understand and know about living frugally but nowhere near what some of these people go through.”

Reneau Howard was reared in and lives in Farragut and both sons graduated from Farragut High School.

“I retired early and I’m thankful that I had the education and work ethic to be able to earn good money for many years. I also have my late father to thank for instilling in me a strong sense of frugality and saving, as well as a compassionate heart,” she says.

When school is out in May, she plans to volunteer at Laundry Love and will probably bring along a few friends.

“I’ve never heard of anything like this Laundry Love. It’s such a simple but powerful idea,” she says. “Something as simple as not having clean clothes or clean sheets takes its toll on a person. This is making someone’s days a little better and brighter. And you don’t have to be rich to donate and help. Just about everyone can afford to give them $5 or $10.”

If you are interested in helping Laundry Love, as Reneau has done, you visit the website and learn more about Laundry Love: Knoxville and call or email about volunteering. You can also make a donation there and contact them for more information. You can email [email protected] to volunteer.

Laundry Love: Knoxville is also on Facebook.

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