The stresses associated with being homeless or struggling with inadequate housing can feel never ending. Not knowing where your next meal is coming from, being without a safe place to sleep, lack of access to a clean bathroom, plus constant threat of attack or theft can all become overwhelming. Loss of dignity from being unclean can compound on top of these stresses until it feels like too much to bear for many homeless people.
Now, a new Toronto charity is doing its part to help local homeless people regain some of their dignity.
Clean Break T.O. launched earlier this month, with a GoFundMe page and a goal to provide free laundry access to those living on the streets. Starting with the mission to “extend a helping hand to our neighbours in need,” Clean Break T.O. is aiming to “offer relief to individuals who find themselves forced to decide between having clean clothes or meeting other basic needs (ie food, shelter, medical expenses etc).”
Surpassing its goal of $500 to raise $625 in just three weeks, the nonprofit organization is planning its first free laundry service from 6 am to 9 am on Saturday, May 13 at The Lost Sock laundry mat in Toronto, located at 1050 Bathurst Street.
Earlier this year, the Pope opened a laundromat in Rome, where the homeless can wash their clothes for free, a move that inspired Clean Break T.O.. Plans to add a barbershop, in-house showers and health care facilities at the same location are underway. Clean Break T.O. also cites the charity Laundry Love as one of their inspirations, with the U.S. group holding on-going free laundry events across the country.
Similar charities around the world have also found success outside of the traditional laundromat. Orange Sky Laundry in Australia developed a washer and dryer that fits in a van, making them the world’s first free mobile laundry service for the homeless. In California, a charity called Dignity on Wheels provides hot showers and laundry services to the homeless, with the mobile trailer able to provide 30 showers and 14 loads of laundry in four hours.
Clean Break T.O. is hoping to turn their upcoming laundry pop up into a monthly event. The funds raised so far will go towards the cost of using the washers and dryers, detergent and dryer sheets, and snacks and water for those in attendance. Clean Break T.O. will also be providing gently worn clothing during their pop-up event.