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Laundry service gives Covenant House residents a fresh start
Last year, Covenant House’s emergency shelter provided 877 youth in crisis a meal, a shower and above all, a safe bed in which to sleep.
Every day, when those kids woke up, they’d strip the sheets, gather their towels and place them in bins to be washed. They’d replace the beds with clean sheets so the next frightened teen to come through the door also would feel welcome and safe. It’s a simple practice – both necessary for cleanliness yet also comforting for those accustomed to sleeping on the streets.
“A lot of the kids will say, ‘it is so nice to sleep on a bed that smells good,’” said Connie Morgan, the center’s program coordinator. “It is the little things that most of us take for granted that they appreciate. These kids may carry a towel around with them that hasn’t seen a laundry in a month or longer.”
Covenant House has a long history with the Sisters of Providence – ever since the Archdiocese of Anchorage opened the shelter’s doors in 1987. The center provides emergency shelter for young people in immediate crisis. It also operates two transitional living centers, a workforce development program to help teens find jobs and on-the-street outreach, actively searching for those who need help.
These programs combined helped 5,753 children and teenagers in 2012, said Lauren Rice, director of public relations and advocacy for Covenant House. And the need continues.
Yet, on the most-basic level, a place to rest one’s head is of the utmost importance. Providence saw that need in 1987 and continues to recognize it today. Twice a week Covenant House staff collects the laundry and delivers it to Providence’s laundry services, where the staff there washes, sterilizes, and packages it for pickup. It’s an in-kind donation worth more than $30,000 annually.
“The food and the bed above everything else is what we are called to do first and foremost, and Providence is an integral part to the basis of our mission,” Rice said. “It’s a huge gift. We would have had to invest in thousands of dollars for specialized laundry equipment, not to mention the time. And to do that for 25 years is priceless.”
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