Tent City residents find help for laundry

December 25, 2013

By David Hayes

As a resident of Tent City 4, Alan Evans knows the importance of keeping a clean, warm blanket to make it through the wet and cold winter months.

“I used to do my blankets myself in downtown Issaquah,” said Evans, who’s been living in Tent City for the past four months.

Residents used to also have the option of utilizing an outside contractor to get their blankets cleaned.

But not long after the city moved to its current location at Mary, Queen of Peace, Catholic Church in Sammamish, Aramark terminated its contract to wash Tent City blankets at its Lynnwood plant once a week.

“Volunteers from Mary, Queen of Peace brought their need to our attention,” said Arlene Carter, executive director of the Providence Marianwood Foundation. “We got excited right away to find a way to help others outside the walls of the nursing home.”

The nursing home stepped in and offered its laundry facility to service Tent City’s needs. Evans now oversees a team of four volunteer residents who haul their blankets to Providence Marianwood twice a week.

“Last week, we did 117 blankets one day and another 106 the other,” Evans said. “With this program, we’ve got almost 500 clean blankets as it sits.”

The clean blanket program consists of donations of everything from sleeping bags to full-sized fleece blankets, Evans said.

Laundry aid Mike Hanley said Providence Marianwood’s three industrial washers are able to handle about 85 pounds per load.

“They do a really good job of getting them clean,” he said. “They’re extractors that are particularly good at pulling heavily soiled materials out of laundry.”

Tim Alton, Providence Marianwood director of support services, also known as the director of “wow,” said the arrangement has worked out perfectly for both sides.

“We’re usually done with our facility by 2:30 p.m., so their usage doesn’t disturb our residents,” Alton said. “As a fringe benefit, our volunteers provide their volunteers a free dinner.”

Evans sums up the laundry exchange as fitting nicely within Providence Marianwood’s core values of respect, compassion, justice, excellence and stewardship.

“It’s their motto — pass it on,” he said. “It’s been great.”

After three weeks, Carter said the senior center is working to continue the exchange after Tent City 4 leaves Sammamish.

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