Loving America Street is an organization that began in 2010 when Samantha Sammis, Executive Director, started playing basketball games with Eastside youth. This turned into a desire to live in the Eastside community, where she began hosting Bible studies in her home, neighborhood cookouts and block parties, and a Christmas photo day where her friends would take family photos in the park, frame and deliver them to the community for Christmas.
Loving America Street, locally known at Laundry Matters of 51 Reid Street in downtown Charleston, South Carolina became a faith-based incorporated non-profit in 2014. Their mission is to facilitate asset based community development in order to empower residents toward positive change. The focus is on assets and strengths of the community, instead of weaknesses. They became aware of the neighborhood laundromat available for lease in 2015 and identified it as a necessary asset to be preserved and restored. They renovated the space, and are now open 7 days a week, provide a drop off service, employ local residents, host Bible study and after school tutoring, as well as other community services such as free literature, food pantry items, school supplies, clothing and more. They further host free laundry days throughout the week for our low income and homeless neighbors.
Two employees currently include Ramsye, who has a physical disability, and Vanity, a resident who identifies as transgender. “Landry Matters is people friendly! It’s an opportunity for a disabled man to work. Laundry Matters, and people matter. I’m proud of that, proud that I have a job. My work here empowers me to be self-sufficient, able to take care of myself, support myself. Thank you God,” Says Ramsey about the organization.
When we asked Vanity what does she like most about Landry Matters, she said, “The funny characters that come in and out of the laundromat. Also, the coffee because most coffee shops are too loud. And, the coworkers!”
With so much love, Samantha had one message to share with the city “I hope what the city will learn about our 501c3 is that we are not only preserving the neighborhood laundromat, but we are providing jobs to local residents in a community that is quickly being gentrified, and the local population is being pushed out. Very few residents are offered local employment in the Eastside. We are able to provide employment while also preserving a community asset and business. Furthermore, we are 100% run off of donations which means we pay rent, utilities and insurance for the laundromat in addition to our employees, all through donations. We LOVE monthly donors to contribute to these costs, and are always looking for additional financial partners.”
To donate or follow Check them out online at:
and Instagram: @ lovingamericastreet
Landry Matters: @ laundrymatterssc
Photo’s and Words by Jonatan Ramirez