Washing machine on wheels rolls into Denver

Mobile laundry truck taps hydrants to provide clean clothes to Denverites in need.

June 1, 2017 | By: Jay Adams

Marcus Harris knows what it’s like to be down on his luck. He also knows how to pay it forward.

Harris spent 14 years in prison and when he got out, he spent time living on the streets as he worked to get his life back on track.

After struggling for years, he found a job at Bayaud Enterprises — a Denver organization devoted to finding jobs for people with disabilities and those living in poverty — working as an advocate for the poor.

In 2015, Bayaud sent him to San Francisco on a fact-finding mission to see what the city was doing to help its homeless community. It was a trip that changed Harris’ life.

Harris brought the idea back to Scott Kerr, Bayaud’s director of employment and opportunity center. The two met with homeless advocates in Denver and came up with their own idea — build a mobile laundromat that used fire hydrants to access water.

Marcus Harris, laundry truck coordinator, delivers a bag of clean clothes at the Denver Public Library downtown.
Marcus Harris, laundry truck coordinator, delivers a bag of clean clothes at the Denver Central Library.

“We felt that access to laundry services was an untapped need in the community,” Kerr said. “All too often, people in our community are turned away from a potential job simply because they don’t have clean clothes.”

The next step in building the mobile laundry truck involved working with Denver Water, which manages more than 15,500 fire hydrants in Denver.

“When Bayaud approached us with their mobile laundry truck idea, we said, ‘absolutely we can help,’” said Bryan Campbell, Denver Water meter shop field supervisor.

Campbell and a team from Denver Water worked with Bayaud to get a permit to access city hydrants and a connection device complete with a dolly, hose, backflow preventer, plumbing fittings and a hydrant wrench.

With the truck ready to go, Bayaud rolled out the mobile laundromat in April.

“Access to fire hydrants gives us the ability to operate in any neighborhood in the city,” Harris said. “We get a wide variety of people using the service, including people living on the streets, families, single moms and homeless veterans.”

The Laundry Truck taps into fire hydrants to access water for its six washing machines.
The Laundry Truck taps into fire hydrants to access water for its six washing machines.

Denver Water also provided funding for six high-efficiency washing machines.

“The machines and the laundry process are very water-efficient,” Campbell said. “Bayaud’s staff weighs all the clothes to make sure every wash uses a full load.”

The water-saving measures ensure the truck can stay on location as long as possible before having to leave to drain the wastewater tanks.

Having clean clothes encourages people to apply for jobs and helps keep them employed, according to Kerr.

“Over 50 percent of the people who experience homelessness have jobs,” he said. “Having clean clothes gives people confidence to get back into the workforce.”

The truck visits neighborhood centers, churches, parks and libraries.

Edwin Rose, Air Force veteran (right), hopes clean laundry will help his job search.
Edwin Rose, Air Force veteran (right), hopes clean laundry will help his job search.

“It’s a great service,” said Edwin Rose, a homeless Air Force veteran. “I recently had a job interview, and it was great having clean clothes.”

The truck also stops at Denver elementary schools. “We found that many children don’t go to class because they don’t have clean clothes,” Harris said. “Unfortunately, many families struggle to put food on the table and pay rent so they can’t afford to pay for laundry.”

The truck also has six dryers to make sure the clothes are ready to be worn. “When we see people pick up their warm, fluffy clothes and see the smiles on their faces, it’s awesome,” Harris said.

The laundry truck visits two to three locations each week and can clean up to 40 loads of clothes during an eight-hour shift.

Workers also provide information about employment opportunities to people who stop by the truck.

The laundry truck can run up to 40 loads of laundry during an 8-hour shift.
The laundry truck can run up to 40 loads of laundry during an 8-hour shift.

“We’d like to think this truck helps people dream again,” Harris said. “This service lets people know that their voices are being heard and that this community does care about them.”

Find the laundry truck’s schedule at Facebook.com/thelaundrytruck or colaundrytruck.com. You can learn about Bayaud’s employment opportunities at bayaudenterprises.org.

3 thoughts on “Washing machine on wheels rolls into Denver”

  1. This is awesome! Do you get donations for detergent and laundry sheets? I know people would donate! Plus maybe laundry bags so they aren’t carrying clothes in trash bags?

  2. When I started this day, #45 had just insulted another Country and a disgruntled employee in Florida had just murdered 5 people then killed himself…I had only been awake for 15 minutes when I saw all of this on the news…my soul was troubled…I’m a Female Marine Veteran, I’m married to a retired MGySgt Marine, our only child is an Army Veteran…

    I said ALL that to get to this POINT…I trained for combat, my husband fought in the Gulf war, and I’m watching this country, that I volunteered to put my life on the line for, turning friends into foes, discriminating against entire countries, I could go on, but…THEN I logged on to Facebook and saw this video….it CHANGED my entire mindset…it reminded me that we have to have HOPE…it reminded me that people do care…it reminded me that one person CAN cause change…it reminded me that I have to do MY part…

    Thank you for helping those who need a helping hand. And thank you for inspiring me to see the glass is half FULL…

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *