By Emily Drooby
A washer and dryer are a miracle for many at P.S. 132 in Manhattan — ones that came from Catholic Charities.
At the Washington Heights grade school, almost a quarter of the students are homeless or housing insecure. They’re not alone, in New York City public schools, one in every ten students is homeless.
B”Many of us take for granted that we can wash our clothes, and we do it every day if we want to, go to the laundromat, go to our basement. But it was not something that could happen for many of the families here,” explained Beatriz Diaz Taveras, the executive director of Catholic Charities Community New York explained.
When a family is homeless or housing insecure, finding a way to do laundry can be impossible.
Soraya Rodriguez, a parent at P.S. 132, said that can be difficult for kids. “They don’t want to come to school because they feel like, ‘They’re clean, we’re not that clean. We’re kind of dirty,’ and emotionally it’s more important to make sure they’re excited to come to school.”
The school’s principal, Wendy Poveda, said it was affecting attendance.
“When I would ask students, ‘Why weren’t you at school? We missed you,’ [they would say] ‘My uniform was dirty.’”
In the past, to help students staff members would wash clothes at their homes, but Principal Poveda knew they needed a more permanent fix.
She reached out to Catholic Charities of New York’s Alianza Youth Services, who donated the machines.
The room comes fully stocked with laundry baskets detergent and even dryer sheets. The school is accepting detergent, dryer sheets and more.
Catholic Charities is now in talks with a few other yet-to-be-named schools to create similar programs.