Most of us view laundry as a chore, an afternoon-consuming task that we put off until we run out of underwear and have no other option but to do it.
For those with access to washing machines and dryers, having clean clothes is the norm. For those who don’t, however, like many homeless populations, a single load of laundry can be step one to getting back on their feet.
Enter Pope Francis.
The head of the Catholic Church has opened a free laundromat for the poor in Rome, the Vatican announced Monday.
Whirlpool donated six washers, six dryers, and ironing stations while Proctor and Gamble is providing laundry detergent and fabric softener.
Located in an old hospital in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood, the laundromat will operate under the Office of Papal Charities, in partnership with the Community of Sant’Egidio, and will be run entirely by volunteers, Catholic News Agency reported.
In the coming months, they plan to expand services to include a barber, showers, free clothing, and medical services, which aim to instill pragmatism in addition to humanitarianism.
“Nothing is more pleasing to the Father than a concrete sign of mercy,” the announcement said. “By its very nature, mercy is made visible and tangible in concrete and dynamic action.”
Rome accounts for approximately 15% of Italy’s homeless population, Reuters reported in 2016. Most of Italy’s homeless are immigrants, which is unsurprising considering the nation has become a crossroads in the global refugee crisis.
While becoming homeless can be simple as losing one’s job, getting back on one’s feet is much more complicated. Access to basic sanitation services becomes limited, as does transportation, having a phone to contact potential employers, and countless other factors people take for granted.
By offering basic cleanliness, Francis is tackling this unequal access to resources.
The Pope led a similar initiative to help the homeless when he opened showers, a bathroom and barbershop in the Vatican in 2015.
He has also made a habit of sharing his birthday breakfast with the homeless. It’s an act that not only provides a meal for hungry people, but also holds symbolic value from a man who is leading the global push to help the less fortunate.
With his latest effort, the head of the Catholic Church is extending his hospitality beyond the walls of Vatican City, and bringing some of the comforts of home to the people who need it most.
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