What's keeping kids from doing well in school? In some cases, it's clean clothes.
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Whirlpool

T.J. Kirk hates the laundromat. What kid doesn't?

“The laundromat wastes my time,” he says. He thinks it’s boring. They have TVs, but they're never playing anything he wants to watch.

T.J. is in the third grade, and when he has homework, the laundromat gets in the way. “I can’t bring it because I can’t focus,” he says.


But even though he hates the laundromat, he prefers it to the alternative.

All photos via Whirlpool.

“At least we’re getting clothes cleaned to wear for school,” T.J. says.

When his family’s dryer broke, T.J.’s mom tried to use the laundromat whenever they could afford it — but often, T.J. found himself going to school in wet clothes or clothes he’d worn before. And when kids spot stains, they can be cruel.

"When the teacher isn't around, they say, 'There's something nasty on your shirt.' And they start laughing," T.J. says.

Laundry can have a much bigger impact on kids’ lives than we realize.

Just watch how it affected T.J.’s life to go without clean clothes and how his life changed when he had access to laundry again.

For many people, laundry is nothing but a chore. For kids without clean clothes, however, it's a constant concern.

“People at school are supposed to wear clean clothes,” T.J. says. When a child knows they’re in dirty clothes, they behave differently — feeling more self-conscious, less focused, and less confident in themselves.

When his family was without a dryer, T.J. was always thinking about making sure his clothes stayed clean. “If we’re going somewhere that has messy food, I put not good clothes on,” he says. “Something that sort of looks good, but not really.” He did his best to avoid messes and stains, to make sure his clothes stayed clean for a second wear.

But for T.J., life just isn’t as fun when he’s not allowed to get messy.

“We play soccer, play on the monkey bars, go to the swings,” he says. He loves sports and art, nature and the environment. He likes looking for snakes and caterpillars and buried treasure in the dirt. And now that there’s a washer and dryer in the school, T.J. can do all the things he loves without worrying about his clothes.

“When I put a clean shirt on,” he says, “It makes me feel happy because I don’t have to go to school with a shirt that I don’t like.”

One of T.J.’s biggest concerns is that other kids get the same access that he has to clean laundry.

After all, getting dirty is no fun without friends to do it with. “Something that I like about soccer,” he says, “is that you have teammates. Because if you don’t have teammates, how can you make a goal?”

That’s why he wants to see more schools get washers and dryers, like his. “We’re helping people who will come to school with dirty clothes,” he says. “So they don’t get picked on by their friends.”

And it's not just kids who benefit from having laundry access in schools — it brings the whole community together too.

"Now that our community knows that we have this, everyone is starting to be involved with our school," says T.J.'s mom, Monica. "Seeing that change is just amazing."

With laundry in schools, kids are more confident, communities are closer, and schools are a better place to be. And, perhaps best of all, fewer kids like T.J. have to wait around boring laundromats.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."