ARTS | ACCESS | ADVOCACY | ACTION
A SAFE, OPEN & FREE SPACE FOR ALL PEOPLE
TO GATHER, LEARN, MAKE & SHARE
Using the arts as a common denominator, The WASH Project establishes an outlet for the simple, open & free practice of creativity, play, and social behavior. WASH also serves as a human services hub for the immediate Burmese community & beyond: a neighborhood access point for information regarding a wide range of community services & cultural opportunities. From this effort, we continue to cultivate the development of a small, yet dynamic center of local community life, a place that people of all ages & walks of life come to; a place, that by the way it is designed & the way it is operated, strengthens its neighborhood, collaboratively, via a model of creativity & open engagement.
As a mixed-use laundromat, WASH filed as a Benefit Corporation, in the summer of 2014. Being a Benefit Corporation means that we uphold a business model of transparency and accountability; that our business strives to have a positive impact on society, workers, the community and the environment, in addition to profit as its legally defined. We work for the triple bottom line, that is: People, Planet, and then Profit.
Though not functioning as a for-profit business at this time, WASH has determined to keep our Benefit Corporation status, as it’s in alignment with our longterm goal of returning to the laundromat business in 2018, give or take a year.
Over the past 10 years approximately 30% of the refugees resettled in New York State have come to Buffalo – more than have been resettled in New York City – & the majority live on the West Side. Many arrive here from refugee camps in Burma, Thailand, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, etc. where there have been limited opportunities for education.
Without the arrival of refugees, the population loss of the City of Buffalo & the Buffalo Public Schools during the past 15 years would have been significantly greater, and consequently left our city much less diverse, and too, that much less of a global learning laboratory.
Helping this recent wave of refugees & immigrants thrive in their new home is a far greater task than the Buffalo Public Schools can meet. Certainly, there are multiple ways to address the myriad of issues facing children, adults & families as they struggle to put down roots & become self-sustaining & contributing members of our neighborhoods & communities. The WASH Project proposes one way to do this, & that is by integrating free arts & learning experiences at the street level.
REGIONAL & LOCAL SHOULDERS
In 2012, WASH’s first year, we were inspired by the creative, practical & progressive work of the NY-based organization, The Laundromat Project, and through the visionary leadership of Zaw Win, Friends of the Buffalo Story, and with the generous sponsorship of Houghton College, Belle Center & Buffalo AmeriCorps, as well as the Richard W. Rupp Foundation, came into being at that time.
In its more recent past, WASH has received tremendous amounts of council and support, notably from the Oishei Foundation, the Small Business Development Center, Charles Gordon Architecture, and PUSH Buffalo, who purchased WASH’s original building at 417 Massachusetts Avenue in 2014 and has been advocating for WASH ever since.
Values & Rules