With that great success comes a greater need for volunteers and contributors — preferably volunteers who also contribute funds.
When the RLM was launched on Aug. 11, 2016, it offered one free laundry night per month from 5-7 p.m. at one laundromat.
The program, which provides money for the machines, as well as detergent if needed, eventually grew to two nights per month, then two nights at two laundromats.
RLM by the numbers
The program kept expanding until March 2018, when the RLM began offering free laundry night every Thursday at both the West Rogersville Laundromat on Locust Street and Dirty Dudz Laundromat on Main Street.
In 2018, the RLM served 4,223 people, costing $10,366 for the entire year.
With five months left in 2019, the RLM has already served 3,004 people, sometimes spending more than $500 per week. The ministry broke its all-time record in May by serving 516 people.
RLM spokesman Dr. Blaine Jones said the ideal situation would be for church groups, civic organizations, youth groups, or businesses to sponsor at least one RLM night per month at one location and provide the volunteers.
“What some of our churches have done is agree to pay for one night, as well as put the volunteers in place to work it,” Jones said. “That’s a double bonus right there. But, if they can supply the volunteers, we can find the money. We welcome either cash or volunteers, but we’d love to have more financial backing along with the volunteers.”
“Love people to Jesus”
RLM co-founder Dawnel Newhouse started the laundry ministry with her women’s group at Rogersville First Christian Church.
One of her fellow members had heard about a similar ministry in Knoxville, and they decided it was something that might work in Rogersville as well.
They had no idea how popular it would become.
“We started this ministry to love people to Jesus, and it has turned into just that,” Newhouse said. “We would love to have more local churches get involved and sponsor a night and provide labor for an event. We would love to have as many nights available for this ministry as we can.”
Why a laundry ministry?
“It’s a needed thing, and it’s an opportunity to show God’s love,” Jones said. “That’s what all of us do this for, to be able to get out there and show people that the Good Lord blessed us, and we want to turn around and share that with others.”
Among the organizations that provide sponsorship and/or volunteers are First Christian Church, Burem Missionary Baptist Church, Hope Community Church, Persia Baptist Church, Phipps Bend Free Will Baptist Church, Tunnel Hill Missionary Baptist Church, and the Hawkins County Special Olympics.
“There is no way we could have done this without all of the wonderful people who donate money, provide laundry detergent and the like, drop quarters in the Rogersville Laundry Ministry PODS containers, as well as various organizations that have contributed,” Newhouse said. “And obviously without all of our volunteers and local churches pitching in, the ministry could not continue to function and serve people like we have.”
How can you help?
Anyone interested in contributing and/or volunteering can call Newhouse at (937) 661-5706 or email her at [email protected]
Anyone who would like to contribute laundry products such as bleach, detergent, etc., can drop them off at the Rogersville First Christian Church Parsonage at 815 Douglas Drive in Rogersville, TN 37857.
Monetary donations can be dropped off during ministry nights or they can be mailed to the above address.
For more information, see the RLM’s Facebook page.