One laundromat in the area is dedicated to “Swish, Spin and Stories,” thanks to the Martinsville-Henry County chapter of Altrusa International, and a second is on the way to getting a children’s reading nook.
The Altrusa Chapter set up a “Swish, Spin and Stories Laundromat Library” for kids at the Scrub Board Laundromat on Virginia Avenue in Collinsville in January. It has a children’s table and chairs, a well-stocked book shelf and a cheerful bulletin board.
The chapter has also put up signs, in English and Spanish, that say, “Read a book, take a book, like a book, share a book.”
It’s doing so well that Altrusa is opening another laundromat location on Rives Road.
The club supplies the books to the laundromat library, taking donations of books in good condition from group members and also purchasing the books online. Altrusa Governor-elect Linda Dorr said the group is researching suitable books and Diane Vann said it’s also important to have books available to people from all walks of life.
People also read…
“Each month we were replacing at least 30 children’s books here,” said Altrusa MHC Service Committee Chair Lillian Holland. And it’s good that people take them home, club members added – their only goal was to get the kids to read.
“We don’t expect anyone to bring [of the books] back,” Holland said.
“We want them to take it because our goal is to have a book in every house,” Dorr said.
“We had a goal, which is an Altrusa literacy goal internationally, of 500 pounds,” Dorr said. “We hit that target in our last year of service, and we’re on track for this year…and that’s how we’re going to be able to measure our success by the number of pounds gained.”
The idea began when an Altrusa chapter in Reno, Nevada, started a laundromat library, and Dorr pitched the idea to the club service committee chairman to start setting one up in Collinsville.
The chapter applied for a grant from Altrusa International, which awarded the chapter $2,000 to set up the first laundromat library.
“We were really working on the philosophy, ‘You meet the kids where they are,'” Vann said. “And we thought a laundromat was a place where parents could come and take their kids with them.”
“Bob’s Enterprises, who run all of these laundromats, were very cooperative and supportive of our interest in doing this,” Holland said.
The grant for the first library enabled the addition of a second extension, and the group is now coming back with the results and a survey of the needs of the area to start the process of opening the second location.
Altrusa is an international nonprofit service organization with chapters around the world. “One of Altrusa’s primary goals is to promote literacy,” Vann said. “Community service and promoting literacy are our top two priorities, so we are always looking for a way to achieve them.”
The group also brings items to nursing homes, collects toys and items for children at Christmas, reads and distributes books to children at the pumpkin patch each year, collects newspapers for the SCPA, makes seamless throws for nursing homes, donates to the Center for Pregnancy Care and more, said chapter president Nancy Bryant.