EAST PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — When school starts next week in East Palo Alto, families will be able to unload their clothes on campus, and for many in the working class community – their stress. The Ravenswood City School District just installed a washer and dryer at McNair Middle School, so parents can do laundry for free, with donated detergent.
“I am so excited, because I feel like this is the first time this ever happened, I never seen this before,” said parent Lucy Barron. “It’s a big impact for the families for the community that I know, even for myself.”
The 36-year-old Barron is a mother of six and has tons of laundry. She and her husband rent the garage of her parent’s East Palo Alto home for $1,500 a month. She goes to the laundromat twice a week and spends at least $80 each time.
“With that money I believe I can buy me more food, more shoes for the kids, more clothing, so it’s going to save me a lot,” she added.
Earlier this year, KPIX 5 brought you the story of homeless children in Silicon Valley. Many of them are crammed inside rundown RVs and cars. In February, one third of the 3,000-plus students in this district were homeless. Today that number has grown to 45 percent, according to the district.
“I think it’s going to be a great help, most of our parents and our families have more than one or two children – so we have uniforms and they’re white shirts and white blouses and they have to be kept clean. we have a very proud community that likes to look clean and neat,” said Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff.
The appliances cost the district about $8,000. The plumbing and installation added another $2,000. Hernandez-Goff believes it’s a worthwhile investment in the community.
And having these amenities at the school also saves parents time – many of them struggle to find the means to haul loads of laundry to the often crowded, limited laundromats in town.
“This provides an opportunity for parents to come in, do their laundry and they can visit their child’s classroom, provide help to the teacher, provide help in the office or else just sit and read to their children,” she added.
The district plans to install washers and dryers at all 8 schools this school year. It is paying for the appliances and relying on funding from the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative and local churches.