Wash & Read Launches New Site

Wash & read


United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Women United expands access to free children’s books.  Xpress Laundry in New Bedford’s West End joins a growing list of local laundromats teaming up with Women United through the Wash & Read program.

Xpress Laundry, located at 330 Hathaway Boulevard, is co-owned by Ivan Brito and Tony DeBarros.  Brito stated, “Xpress Laundry is excited to be part of the Wash & Read program. It's important for us to be able to help provide free books to kids in our community, because we understand reading is fundamental for kids as it lays the foundation for their overall development."

Established in 2018, Wash & Read provides free children’s books to families by setting up designate space for “reading corners” within laundromats. Young visitors are encouraged to read and take home books to build their personal library. The average time spent at a laundromat is 2.5 hours and many are located in low-income neighborhoods where access to books may be limited. Wash & Read supports children and families sometimes overlooked by traditional literacy programming.

“Through Wash & Read, we are able to meet families where they are and provide children access to free, age-appropriate books,” said Paula Montgomery, Women United Director at United Way. “Access is critical to increasing literacy, which is a core focus for our local Women United initiative.”

Book drives to support Wash & Read have been hosted by local schools, businesses, and individuals while an Amazon Wish List provides an opportunity for new books to be purchased and donated directly to United Way’s Women United.  Over 9,000 books have been given out through Wash & Read partner sites.

Other participating laundromats include Bush Cleaners, Dartmouth Laundromat, E-Z Clean, Friendly Laundromat, and Wash World locations in the north, south, and west ends of New Bedford.

A small team of volunteers supports Wash & Read. Efforts to expand the program to additional locations throughout United Way of Greater New Bedford’s service area are underway.

United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Women United is a network of individuals leveraging their collective power to elevate and strengthen women through education, action, and philanthropy. Learn more at www.unitedwayofgnb.org/women-united.

Wash & Read


Ivan Brito, co-owner of Xpress Laundry helps set up the new Wash & Read bookshelf at his Hathaway Boulevard facility (top photo).  The free books were a quick draw to this father and daughter on day one (bottom photo).  Wash & Read, an early literacy program, funded by United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Women United.