PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — Pflugerville resident Ebonie Trice has always been drawn to community service. Growing up in Gary, Indiana, she was raised in a church that ran a shelter and food pantry for those in need, as well as offered recreational sports teams to help connect and unify neighbors.
When she moved to Texas a decade ago, she wanted to translate those same passions into her surrounding neighborhoods. As the homelessness crisis increased in the Austin metro, she narrowed her focus on how to best provide basic necessities and care for those living without permanent housing.
Connecting with the lead pastors at surrounding ministries, she asked them what ways her volunteerism could supplement their homelessness outreach initiatives. The answer, she said, lied in a basic privilege many of us take advantage of each day.
“I started personally thinking about how often I can wash [clothes],” she said. “I have a washer and dryer in my home, and it’s easy if I wanted to wash every day or every other day. But something as simple as that, we take for granted.”
Trice founded the nonprofit, Mission Accomplished, in 2014. At its onset, Trice and her volunteers would head out to homelessness camps, collect dirty clothes and take them to a laundromat for washing before returning them back to the camp.
They then evolved to creating laundry kits with cleaning supplies to distribute to those in need of services, partnering with local churches to use their in-house washers and dryers.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit. With the pandemic came an increased awareness of social distancing and enhanced safety provisions, Trice modified services to safely meet the needs of people without housing.
“You’re trying to keep your volunteers safe but you also want to still help, and so it became a real big challenge,” she said. “But then we started running into where [laundromat] owners didn’t want that look
in their facilities, and so they didn’t want us to have — to have an overload of individuals experiencing homelessness in their facility. So then we had to take a pause. And it was like, OK, what do we do?”
Looking toward a fellow homelessness nonprofit, Trice connected with Lighter Loads ATX and its founders, James and Laura Ritchie. From there, she created the Laundry Angels on Wheels program.
The mobile laundry trailer, launched in late summer, travels to area shelters to provide services and meet people experiencing homelessness where they’re at.
In addition to laundry services, Mission Accomplished provides food and water, 24-hour bus passes, gift cards, clothing and toiletry items onsite. The trailer travels to nonprofits such as Sunrise Community Church to connect community members with laundry services at a site already offering case management, shelter and employment assistance resources.
“It’s kind of like their one stop shop, because the goal is to bring the services to them,” she said.
Mission Accomplished will host a grand opening celebration for its mobile services on Oct. 16. Alongside expanding Mission Accomplished’s outreach, Trice said she now gets to meet with more people face-to-face, further emboldening hers and her nonprofit’s mission.
“It’s such a different impact right now because we get to, like, talk to them,” she said, adding: “It’s just like, the realness of it, and then you get to see them all the time.”