Not too long ago Sally Melcher-McKeagney had an idea. She would collect quarters from folks in the church, and take them to local laundromats, and give them away to folks who were there. Because they were there. Because a load of laundry at a laundromat is now something like $7.00 for one wash/dry. She calls it, "Bringing Good News to the poor." Amen! Got an idea like that? One that serves those on the margins of our community? Bring it! We will find a home for it here.
Give, without any expectation of return. - Luke 6:35
Tales from the 'Mat
Sally often shares stories from her encounters at the local laundromats. She calls them, "Tales from the 'mat." Here are a few . . .
One day I held out a roll of quarters for a young woman who was putting in a load of laundry. Something happened. Maybe it was something about her and her need, or maybe it was her response, but as I held out the quarters, and she reached for them, I felt the other people around us recede, until it was just the two of us, there with the washers, one speck of dust on a little planet in the galaxy handing $10 to another speck of dust on that same planet. The moment was brief. Then thanked me, and I smiled, and we were back at the Highlander again. But for a moment, I had felt like I was on holy ground.
I went to the Laundromat the day after election day. I asked a young woman who was transferring her clothes into the dryer if she needed quarters. As she took my roll, she said, "I only need two dollars." She peeled open my quarter roll, removed eight quarters, and gave the roll back to me, and thanked me.
A little later, another young woman came in and was putting her clothes into the washer. When I approached her with my quarters, her face lit up. "This is great timing," she said, "I just lost my job." She began to talk with me about some other financial stressors in her life--and they were severe. I stopped and listened. Then I wished her good luck in finding a better job.
Me: Today is Community Quarters Day. Here are some quarters.
Young woman (startled look). What?
Me: Here are quarters for your laundry.
Young woman (face softens) This is so kind.
Me: Here are some quarters for you to do your laundry.
Young woman (coming back into laundromat with second and third bags of dirty laundry) Why?
Me: These are quarters from the community.
Young woman: What did I do to deserve this?
Me: Just...you were here.
Young woman: You made my weekend!
Me: These quarters are for your dryer
Young man: (takes ear bud out) What? No, those are not mine.
Me: Yes, these are quarters from the community. They are for you for the dryer.
Young man: Thank you!