By the looks of Courtney Bell's car trunk, you might think he owns a laundromat. His garage is even more convincing. It is packed full with detergent, fabric softener, bleach and even washers and dryers. But none of it is for him. "A lot of families can only purchase laundry detergent once a month." So year-round, Courtney stocks up on soap.
The 30-year-old solicits help from businesses and writes grants for all the product. His ‘Soap for Hope' campaign helps upwards of 6,000 people a year - by providing a month's worth of laundry supplies. "You feel a lot better when you have clean clothes and it's the right thing to do."
Courtney and a large group of volunteers just distributed all the detergent around northern Nevada. They made about 70 stops, from the Boys and Girls Club to shelters, churches, senior living communities and the Fourth Street corridor. With the help of motel managers, Courtney tracks down homeless and transient families near downtown Reno. He especially has a heart for less fortunate kids. "At one point in my life, I was raised by a single working mother. She had four kids and I remember what it was like to be that kid in school." They lived in parks, hotels and abandoned homes. Now a thriving University of Nevada alumnus, Courtney's perspective is fueling his passion to help.
"There's a single-parent mother out there with four kids going to PTA meetings, her son's on the soccer team. She catches the bus and I look at that single-parent mother and ask what can I honestly, seriously do to help that mother?"
Along with laundry supplies, Courtney also tracks down single, working moms of honor roll students to give them washers and dryers. Corporate partnerships and community leaders, who believe in Courtney's cause, have made it possible. He works closely with RC Willey, Walmart and Black and White Appliances on Wells Avenue to provide the machines. Together they are changing lives and Courtney says while it has taken years of hard work and unwavering commitment, Soap for Hope is proof to everyone out there that if you are passionate - anything is possible. "Whatever their passion is, whatever they want to do for someone else - do it!"
Courtney needs volunteers year round. From businesses willing to donate washing machines to groups committed to collecting detergent and even folks wanting to financially support Soap for Hope - all volunteers are welcome. To learn more, log onto http://www.people1stfoundation.org/.