Dependable Laundry and Rugs has been changing lives for the better since it was established in 1993 by Exceptional Enterprises. The nonprofit organization that provides social services to enhance the quality of life of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities established the business to provide meaningful, useful jobs for those it serves.
The business provides and launders towels, industrial rugs, dust mops and wet mops for hair salons, restaurants, banks, churches, schools, and a variety of other businesses in Grundy, Marion and Sequatchie counties. It also holds a contract to launder the linens, towels, and sheets for Castle’s Motel in Whitwell. However, in 2017, the business was no longer profitable, and it looked as if it would be forced to close.
At about the same time, exceptional education teacher Lisa Magourik’s son was graduating from Grundy County High School. She and her husband had decided to keep their son at home for a while but quickly found that he was regressing without a structured environment and social interaction, losing most of his social skills and some of his verbal skills.
“When I found out that the laundry was going to close, I told my husband that I wanted to buy it and keep it going,” Lisa said. “I knew that my son needed this kind of opportunity and so did the other special needs adults who were working there. Some had been there since it opened in 1993. I hated to think how losing their jobs, along with the structure and social interaction it provided, would affect the workers. It turned out that we couldn’t afford to buy it; however, by establishing the laundry as a separate nonprofit organization, Exceptional Enterprises could transfer the building and equipment to another nonprofit without charging for them. We were able to set it up pretty quickly, and I took over as the unpaid CEO of the business. We have been able to keep it going since July 2018. However, during the COVID pandemic, we had to shut down like everyone else and had no funds coming in for several weeks. We have also had to close a few times due to illness of workers and other staff members. With these closures and the permanent closing of several businesses we used to serve, we are barely making it. We have cut back as far as we can. We are now closed on Fridays to reduce costs and stay in business.
“We have great support from the community, receiving grants from SVECares, the South Cumberland Community Fund and some very generous private donors, but we have fixed costs and bills that have to be paid even when we are closed. We receive no state funding, so we must rely on what we can bring in from the 115 small businesses we serve.
“We have bid on some larger contracts; however, some require more than our eight to 10 workers can adequately handle without more employees and equipment. Unfortunately, I have had to turn them down. We are now reaching out to the community. I have seen firsthand the positive effects that having a job and a purpose for each day has had on my son, and I want that for the students I work with at school and for the special needs adults who work at the laundry. As the parents of these employees get older and are no longer working, many are living on Social Security checks and worrying about what will happen to their children when they are no longer around to take care of them. Knowing that they have the skills to hold down a job in a safe, structured, work environment does a lot to ease the worries.” This vital community resource is now at a critical point financially.
If you would like to make a donation or know of resources that can assist this local nonprofit business that is helping build a brighter Tennessee, contact Lisa Magouirk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 931-692-7847.