July 9, 2008
By Teresa Taylor Williams
Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON — On a sweltering day in June, Debbie Conyers of Muskegon was all smiles as she tossed a load of clothes in the washing machine at Sacred Suds.
IF YOU GO

  • What: Arts & Crafts Fair to benefit Sacred Suds, 289 E. Larch, a low-cost community laundromat.
  • When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 25.
  • Where: Pocket Park, located at Terrace Street and Isabella Avenue.
  • Admission: Free, proceeds go toward the operation of Sacred Suds.

Living on disability, her budget is tight. So at $1 per load, she”s been using the low-cost facility for nearly a year.

“It”s been a Godsend for me. By the time utilities and rent are paid, there”s nothing left for the laundromat,” she said. “If it weren”t for my mother bringing me here, I”d probably (do laundry) in the sink or tub.”

The nonprofit ministry center offers a variety of services, including access to shower and laundry facilities. It operates under the umbrella of Community enCompass — a resource center for the neighbors in McLaughlin Neighborhood, who may participate in the neighborhood walking program, the Garden of Hope and use the computer center.

To help with the cost of maintaining the laundry facility, they”re hosting an art fair in nearby Pocket Park. Vendors are primarily local artists.

The park used to be an overgrown, abandoned lot with lots of broken glass. But Community enCompass volunteers have cleaned it up, and it”s a gathering spot, community garden and playground, according to Sarah Rinsema-Sybenga, executive director of Community enCompass.

The “laundromat and outreach ministry” began in 2002, and was the creation of several downtown Muskegon churches and social agencies. It couldn”t operate without volunteers and donations.

The intent was to help people maintain their dignity and improve personal hygiene, and also help remove barriers to employment.

Clients include teens from broken homes, single mothers, senior citizens and the working poor.

Using the laundry facilities is by appointment only, with two loads of laundry per appointment. To use the shower, no appointment is needed, and toiletries are provided.

Sacred Suds is open 9 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays each week.

“Our clientele is anyone with no washing machine who cannot afford to go to a laundromat,” said Judy Smith, program manager. “We”re trying to double our capacity because the need is increasing. We”re seeing a weeklong waiting list for appointments, and if you have clothing to wash, you typically don”t want to wait too long.”

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Sacred Suds can always use dry laundry detergent and the help of volunteers. For more information, call 726-4161.

©2009 Muskegon Chronicle