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For people of limited means, doing even rudimentary tasks like laundry can create a financial burden. With that in mind, Junior League of Billings has been hosting monthly free laundry days.

During the event, people in need are invited to bring their laundry to a laundromat for cleaning. Junior League volunteers show up armed with rolls of quarters, and if necessary, detergent.

A recent laundry event at Speedy Wash, 2505 Sixth Ave. N., saw a big turnout. Every machine in the laundromat was in use from 4 to 7:30 p.m.

One woman, apparently homeless, brought her sleeping bag and a few other belongings, and expressed gratitude after doing her laundry, said Jennifer Kautz, who is community council chair for Junior League.

“Junior League does lots of little impact things, and we also do projects that we start with the intent that they will become their own nonprofit organizations,” Kautz said.

“We take for granted our ability to wash stuff. But some people don’t have that luxury, and it sometimes costs $50 to $60 per month to go to a laundromat,” Kautz said.

Junior league conducted a needs assessment prior to launching the program. Members identified the need for laundry services by contacting local social service agencies. “We talked to the executive director or the development director, and we discovered that laundry was a big deal for their clients.

"People have been really grateful," Kautz said. "The last one was really packed.”

When she’s not volunteering for Junior League, Kautz is finance director for the Billings Family YMCA, a position she has held for four years.

Last year the Billings YMCA saw its membership grow by 5 percent, and it now numbers 15,000.

“In terms of family memberships, the Y is still the most affordable,” Kautz said.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? It's learning how to shift our employee culture to be a more engaged one. Learning what motivates and drives people is a challenge, but without it we don’t have purpose.

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