Life gave ’em lemons. They made laundry

In downtown Athens (Greece), a middle-aged homeless man locations a bag full of garments in entrance a van. A youthful man tells the older man, “Come again inside two hours.” The younger volunteer and the older man might be contained in the van. There are two washing machines and dryers.

Ithaca Mobile Laundry is the primary country-wide free cell laundry service. It can wash roughly 25 baggage of garments. There was a rise in Athensians with out properties as a result of Greek debt disaster and the regular inflow of refugees. However the place there’s catastrophe , there’s additionally alternative . Thanos Spiliopoulos is the founder and CEO at Ithaca Laundry.

Ithaca Laundry washes roughly 25 baggage of clothes per day for the homeless inhabitants. Alvaro Tapia Hidalgo

The issue of homelessness just isn’t confined to Greece. Social enterprises everywhere in the globe are working collectively to deal with the difficulty of their native communities. These companies are decided to make an affect, whether or not by arts-related packages such Wrap Up Homelessness that assist those that are transitioning from homelessness to everlasting housing, or initiatives like SucSeed which gives significant work for at-risk youth. Three brothers from Washington, D.C. based the candle firm Freres Branchiaux initially to earn money for video video games. However in addition they wished to assist native shelters with -10 p.c of their proceeds.

Thanos’s quest to make a distinction began in December 2014. He was 22 years outdated and was ending his bachelor’s in administration science and tech at Athens College of Economics and Enterprise. His choices had been restricted. He may have stayed in Greece, however he would have been vulnerable to becoming a member of the greater than 50 p.c of younger individuals beneath 25 who’re unemployed, and he would even be competing for 500 euro per thirty days (much less that $600 USD for the beginning wage for his age group). He may have fled the nation like his friends. He got here throughout an article about Orange Sky Laundry in Australia, which is the primary cell laundry service that is free for these with out properties. Thanos states, “It dawned upon me that that is what Athens was missing.”

This epiphany was shared along with his associates Fanis Tsonas (a chemical engineer) and Andili Rachaouti (a graphic designer). He was a fan of the thought and shortly shaped a trio to handle their nonprofit.

It wasn’t straightforward to acquire funds in a monetary disaster. Their massive break got here in 2015, when the trio approached Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, a former director of Athens’s 2004 Olympic Video games and an envoy for the Clinton World Initiative. Thanos claims that she offered 10,000 euros ($12,000 USD) in funding. They had been unable to create a sustainable enterprise with out this funding. Thanos says they entered and gained two contests for entrepreneurs. These contests secured them 18,000 euros ($20,000 USD). They then made a deal to buy a van from multinational electronics firm LG and switch it right into a cell laundry enterprise. Georgia Stavropoulou is the advertising and marketing supervisor at LG Electronics Hellas. She says that the corporate strives to “embrace” Ithaca and is dedicated to serving to as many individuals as attainable create dignity and higher lives.

Ithaca Laundry was based by a good friend, a chemical engineer and a graphic artist. Alvaro Tapia Hidalgo

In 2016, they launched a pilot program at one spot, and nearly a 12 months later, they employed their first workers. They visited 5 spots per week in 2018 and had been “regularly increasing” based on Dimitra Kountourioti (Ithaca’s operations supervisor), who joined the workforce in 2017. Dimitra is in her 30s and is one among few workers who’re paid. Others have included ex-beneficiaries of the service. They’ve assisted round 350 individuals every month. Dimitra, who was beforehand a supervisor at a vogue model, says that what makes her job significant helps others to revive their dignity.

Ithaca has obtained sponsorships from different manufacturers, together with Cosmote, the most important cell community in Greece, and the worldwide charity group Hellenic Initiative. Procter & Gamble, a multinational client items firm, provides detergents to the workforce, whereas Sanitas, a pharmaceutical firm, gives baggage and gloves, and Nissan, an car producer, has given the workforce a car. Deloitte approached Dimitra lately about recruiting their workers to volunteer. “There is a shift in firms, particularly in profit-oriented firms. Dimitra says that they need to give again and likewise enhance their public picture. It is a smart way to make use of social media.

Ithaca Laundry was born out of a tragic state of affairs, however Thanos sees a brighter future and for the individuals ithaca was based. They’ve attracted patronage, employed socially susceptible individuals and established a workforce that may make a optimistic affect on the world. Thanos states that now the corporate is in fine condition, the core trio can deal with future technique and discovering methods for these dwelling on the streets to seek out their Ithaca, their means house.

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