Nashville nonprofit that helps the homeless with laundry lands a permanent home

Loads of Love
Posted at 5:54 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 20:12:44-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — At least three times a week, Rev. Lisa Cook drives home a different kind of message.

"We’re going to pick up a van full from the Nashville Rescue Mission," said Cook.

The endeavor starts by loading up her van with nearly a dozen residents from the mission. Karen Brimer is one of them.

"It’s quite a struggle, and it’s a day-to-day thing," said Brimer.

Since March, Brimer has been unable to work and has struggled to sign up for disability payments.

"When I became homeless, I lost my address, so they couldn’t send me paperwork, so they canceled my case, and in the last two days had to start over," she said.

But when Rev. Cook's van drops Brimer off once a week, she's able to enjoy a hot meal and friendly conversation at St. Luke Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Madison.

"It’s one nice thing in an otherwise very dreary day," said Brimer. "There's not words to describe how wonderful this is."

The part that Brimer finds to be nothing short of divine is what happens just down the hall. That's where burdens are unloaded, one laundry basket at a time.

"It’s a huge need; clean clothes is something that everybody has a right to. It makes you feel better if your clothes are clean. You get better chances at jobs if your clothes are clean; you get better chances at housing if your clothes are clean," said Rev. Cook.

Cook started the program, Loads of Love, through her church, Sacred Sparks Ministries, when she realized few homeless shelters had the capability of doing laundry for their guests.

"We’ve been washing clothes and feeding people once a week for seven years, and we’ve been doing that all over Nashville at laundromats," said Cook.

But they weren't always greeted with loads of support.

"We had an incident at a laundromat where assumptions were made about us even though we were paying customers. We were asked to leave and not come back," she said.

Now, thanks to St. Luke Cumberland Presbyterian, the nonprofit has a permanent place to call its own.

"We have our own space where we’re for sure everyone is welcome," said Cook.

For a few hours a week, their guests feel like they do too.

"We’re people; we just happen to be homeless, but we’re still human and they treat us that way and that’s such a blessing, such a blessing to have," said Brimer.

In a world where homelessness can feel like a vicious cycle, this is one message Rev. Cook says she can really drive home.

"If I can recharge and renew them for a few hours, then I’m doing what God’s called me to do," said Cook.

Learn more about Loads of Love and how you can help the cause.