Editor’s Note: Join SCGLR in DeSoto County on Friday, November 15, from 4:00 pm–6:30 pm (Sorry, this one is FULL) or on Saturday, November 16, from 10:00 am–12:30 pm for the upcoming screenings of “Brain Matters.”
Saturday, September 28, started as a seemingly routine laundry day for families arriving at the SuperMatt Laundry in Arcadia. However, they were quickly greeted at the door by community volunteers and Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Engagement Team members. It wasn’t long before people realized they had stumbled upon a Pop-Up Neighbor Through Laundry event and that all of their laundry fees would be paid for thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation.
Laundry costs are one of those expenses some people may not consider, especially if it’s done at home. But many of us have to spend over $25 each week to provide clean clothing for our families. This can be a financial burden, especially for asset-limited households. With limited income and unexpected expenses, clean laundry is sometimes one of the things a family simply can’t afford.
The Pop-Up Neighbor Through Laundry event is a partnership with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and The Laundry Project. The event also doubles as a resource fair with several organizations on hand to connect and share information with families.
Celebrity readers, including Superintendent Cline and Miss DeSoto, joined the event and read to kids while their parents laundered their clothing. Free children’s books and other fun activities were also available to help engage the children in learning and the love of reading. Community volunteers assisted fellow neighbors by loading, unloading, and folding clothes, and providing free laundry detergent and dryer sheets.
Many community members shared how much the surprise gesture meant to them and their families. One young lady named Lisa shared that she’d recently lost her father, and this unexpected financial relief was a much-needed blessing. Debra, another patron, was grateful to be able to launder for her family, especially their large blankets. Nearly 40 families and more than 450 free loads of laundry were provided during the three-hour event.
The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) is a four-county effort in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties to help children from birth through 3rd grade, especially those from asset-limited families, succeed in life by ensuring they read on grade level.
The United Way Suncoast is serving as the lead agency for DeSoto and Manatee counties, and organizations like the School District of DeSoto County, DeSoto County Health Department, Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Heartland, and the DeSoto County Education Foundation are working together to implement the initiative in DeSoto County. The campaign seeks to increase the number of children reading proficiently by the end of third grade, which makes them four times more likely to graduate high school.
“United Way Suncoast is delighted to be the backbone organization for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in DeSoto. There is direct alignment between the work of the campaign and the commitment of United Way to work collaboratively with local organizations to fulfill its mission to support education and financial stability for families to advance the needed capabilities to break the cycle of generational poverty.” – Susan Wetzel, United Way Suncoast Sarasota and DeSoto counties area president.
Join SCGLR in DeSoto County on Friday, November 15, from 4:00 pm–6:30 pm or on Saturday, November 16, from 10:00 am–12:30 pm for the upcoming screenings of “Brain Matters.” Brain Matters is a documentary focusing on the importance of early childhood brain development.
To learn more about the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, visit gradelevelreadingsuncoast.net and follow the movement on social media using #GLReading.
To learn more about United Way Suncoast community impact programs and their mission, visit unitedwaysuncoast.org.