The recent launching of a reading corner at Foxy Lady Laundry in Miami is a prime example of the strong and growing partnership between the Coin Laundry Association’s LaundryCares Foundation and ReadyNation, a business membership group that supports public and private investments to help build the workforce of the future. ReadyNation focuses on key issues, from early childhood education through young adulthood. Another key partner is Kiwanis International, whose clubs are sponsoring many of the projects, including the one in Miami.
The reading program at Foxy Lady kicked off with more than 100 books, including titles for preschool and K+ age groups. The books had been secured by Kiwanis volunteers, from sources including the local library, as well as several individual donors. The books have been provided by the local library, as well as several individual donors. City commissioners from both North Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach were on hand for the program’s launch.
“I talk about six types of business actions to support early childhood – supporting communities, working with employees, engaging customers/suppliers, pursuing social innovation, using media platforms, and directly advocating for policy change,” explained Sara Watson, global director of ReadyNation, during a recent interview. “It’s exciting to see early childhood become a new area of attention for social entrepreneurship, with great initiatives.
“The Coin Laundry Association’s ‘Wash Time is Talk Time’ campaign works with its member laundromats, as well ReadyNation and Kiwanis International, to create reading corners that also are platforms for agencies to offer access to services.”
With regard to Kiwanis International’s involvement in the LaundryCares literacy initiative, Laura Nesmith of the Kiwanis Club in Manchester, N.H., shared her thoughts on a local laundromat reading program.
“It’s great to stop in and see kids with the books,” Nesmith said. “We have told the laundromat that it’s fine if they take them home and to encourage that, if they feel someone is in need. And a few books have gone home.
“We’ve had members and friends donate books, and I’ve picked up some through Facebook sales at very little cost,” she added. “We try to have someone check in every two weeks to restock the books, and the laundromat knows it can call if the supply is getting low.”
The Kiwanis Club in Caribou, Maine, also has a laundromat reading corner project up and running – and the participating store owner has asked the club to set up another reading corner in a second vended laundry.
In addition, Speedy Spin Laundromat in Troy, Ohio – owned by Tom and Carrie Trotter – just went live with its brand new “laundromat library.”
And, with the help of ReadyNation, Sunshine Coin Laundry in Orlando, Fla., has partnered on an early childhood reading program at her store with professional services firm KPMG.
“Laundry owner Sue McCreary warmly welcomed KPMG into her business and was thrilled at the opportunity to further enrich the lives of her customers and their families,” said KPMG’s Jennifer Hall. “Although our original intent was to provide opportunity for children to read while their parents did their laundry, upon meeting Sue and visiting the facility, it became apparent that Sunshine Coin Laundry is not just a laundromat.”
Located directly across from a school, the store’s parking lot has become a central pickup point after classes – where parents can meet their kids and groups of students can meet at the laundromat for a drink and a snack before heading home. In addition, McCreary opens her laundry’s doors once a week to provide free dinners to those in need.
“The reading corner is a wonderful way to encourage reading and provide opportunities for families to spend time together enjoying a book while at the laundromat,” Hall noted. “This initiative helps to demonstrate the passion KPMG has for education, lifelong learning, and the development of our next generation of leaders.”
“I love the trend of taking early childhood messages and services to everyday spaces,” Watson said. “ReadyNation has been working with the Coin Laundry Association – which was encouraged to join this space by Too Small to Fail – and Kiwanis Clubs to bring reading corners into the laundromats that parents and children must visit. In fact, the Coin Laundry Association just convened its own Literacy Summit to brainstorm ideas on how it can use these outlets to spread the message everywhere. Just how cool is that?
“I love the explosion of efforts to convey the message that what young children need most is simply people who love and care for them,”
Coin Laundry Association President and CEO Brian Wallace and LaundryCares Foundation Chairman Jeff Gardner will both be speaking at ReadyNation’s 2018 Global Summit on Early Childhood on November 1-2 in New York City.