LoveOne describes itself as a love-driven nonprofit serving neighbors in Clackamas County. The organization provides laundry services, showers, hygiene items, food and other services to people who need them in Oregon City, Milwaukie, Molalla and soon, Sandy.
They are one of the community-based organizations that Oregon Health Authority partners with to provide COVID-19 education, outreach and wraparound services.
The urgent need for access to soap and running water became clear very soon after the shutdown in 2020. Public restrooms closed leaving folks without access to running water or soap, says executive director Brandi Johnson. People’s small cuts and insect bites soon became badly infected.
“We immediately realized we needed to set up hand washing stations at laundry events,” says Johnson. Eventually, out of this need, “the shower cart came to be funded and built.” The hygiene support LoveOne offers to more than 200 people a month helps reduce COVID-19 transmission.
Folks who use the showers get fifteen minutes in a shower stall that is stocked with shampoo, conditioner and body wash, and leave with new socks, underwear and undershirts.
At laundry events, people can wash and dry up to three loads of laundry free of charge. At a recent event in Molalla, 31 families washed 2,160 lbs of laundry. People can also pick up a range of essential personal care items (everything from menstruation supplies to denture care to nail clippers) from resource tables at every event.
“These events,” says Johnson, “are a great opportunity to build relationships because folks have to be there a while.” Getting to know people’s names, where they camp, their phone numbers and their medical information, she adds, has proven instrumental in referring them to housing.
It’s clear from LoveOne’s Facebook posts that people also come to events to find community and share their joys and sorrows: graduation from a treatment program, a new landscaping job, help filling out apartment rental paperwork, a new and fragile relationship with a daughter.
LoveOne partners with other community organizations to offer services including HIV and Hepatitis-C testing, food boxes, Oregon Health Plan support and sometimes COVID-19 vaccines. Plans are in the works to pair some shower services in rural areas with community court.
This article first appeared in the April 28, 2021 issue of Oregon Coronavirus Update.