Happiness and pride are probably not two emotions that the average person associates with laundry; yet for participants in Families Matter Cooperative’s social enterprise, Laundry Matters, these are two things that doing laundry has brought them. Laundry Matters employs members of Families Matter, a cooperative that serves Ottawa residents with developmental disabilities and their families, to provide valuable employment opportunities, and both the soft and hard skills that come with that. The participants work together and with job coaches to complete piles of laundry each week, sometimes with large orders from community organizations such as St. Vincent’s Hospital or Restoring Hope and sometimes with individual clients.
Executive Director of Families Matter, Miriam Fry, explains that the benefit of the program is “… all about the personal contact. Obviously part of it is about doing the work and getting money and satisfaction, but the other part of it is about community inclusion”. She emphasizes that the benefits are not just for the individual participants being employed by Laundry Matters, but also for the wider community as they learn more about people with developmental disabilities. “Our workers are more confident than they were at the beginning. You can see that they love what they are doing. And people in the community are also more confident that they know what they are doing.” Laundry Matters is focussing on continued growth as they achieve more and more success.