Five years ago, Vanya Lendyashov, Nochlezhka’s engineer, sent a letter to David Papaskiri, the owner of Prachka.com, a chain of laundromats. Vanya wrote to ask how best to organize a mobile laundry point, a kind of laundry on wheels where homeless people could get their clothes clean for free. David responded by offering to set up a full-fledged laundromat with washing machines and dryers, just like the ones in his chain, especially for Nochlezhka. He decided to give us the equipment for free—we only had to find a suitable building. Our volunteers joined the search and soon found a space at Borovaya, 116, not far from Nochlezhka’s shelter.
Thus began the story of our Culture Laundromat, which has been running like clockwork for five years. Over the years, three and half thousand people have used the laundromat, whose washers and dryers have run over twenty-seven thousand cycles. The laundromat has helped our patrons to go to interviews in clean clothes and get a job, to feel like normal people, to save money, and to avoid condemnation and hatred.
A video about how the Culture Laundromat is organized, and about the people who come there for help
The project got its name thanks to the famous joke “Hello, is this the laundromat?” Jokes aside, the place really has become not just a laundromat, but a genuine space for culture. During off hours, a theater studio has rehearsed there, volunteers with the Persimmon project have gathered there to knit warm clothes for homeless people, an apartment concert has been staged there, and the Notyetpozner team filmed an episode there featuring Shortparis lead singer Nikolai Komyagin.
There are shelves of books at the Culture Laundromat and stacks of newspapers and crosswords. Indoor plants turn green on a whatnot in the back. It’s a great place to wash off the grit and grime of hard, terrible days and put on warm clean clothes before going out the door and continuing the path to home from the streets.
Like all our other projects, the Culture Laundromat operates thanks to the people who support us. Thank you for this anniversary and for every day that Nochlezhka is up and running.
Source: Masha Kalinkina, Nochlezhka email newsletter, 25 November 2021. Photo and videos courtesy of Nochlezhka. You can support Nochlezhka by making a donation (via Visa, Mastercard, Apple Pay, Google Pay or PayPal) here. Translated by the Russian Reader