Georgia Power employees spearhead “Laundromat Library” program in South Cobb

Deborah Pendergrass in red polo shirt smiling for cameraDeborah Pendergrass (photo courtesy of Georgia Power)

Georgia Power distributed the following news release about innovative “laundromat libraries” that have opened in Austell and Mableton in South Cobb. The libraries provide books for k-5 students to read while their parents do laundry.

We’ve reprinted the news release below:

When asked to share a few words that describe her, Deborah Pendergrass, an education coordinator at Georgia Power, said “Passionate, open-minded, kids and service.” All words that she has kept top of mind throughout her 20-year career at Georgia Power. Deborah supports the schools in the Metro West area of the state and works with the company’s Learning Power program.

Like most people during the COVID-19 pandemic, Deborah has adjusted the way she does her work as an education coordinator including moving to a completely virtual setting. This new virtual world presented her with the opportunity to attend her first Kiwanis Club of Greater South Cobb (KCGSB) meeting in April of this year. Since then, Deborah became a member and is now a Board Member of the local chapter. It was in these meetings that Deborah first heard of the “Laundromat Libraries,” a literacy project that creates a library, in English and Spanish, for k-5 children in local laundromats for them to read while their parents do laundry.

The children have the option of taking the books home to help build their in-home libraries and further enhance their reading skills. This project is a collaboration between the KCGSB and the United Way to help underprivileged children.

“Wow, this was a great opportunity to help South Cobb and the children in need,” said Pendergrass. “From the first moment I heard about this Laundromat Libraries project the wheels started turning thinking of ideas of how I could partner with them.”

Deborah presented the idea to her Metro West Citizens of Georgia Power employee volunteer chapter, Region External Affairs and Energy Efficiency Education leadership. She knew this literacy project for kids was something the company would support and leveraged one of her passions of bringing people together. 

Odessa Archibald, area manager for South Cobb at Georgia Power, is one of the company’s supporters of this literacy program and helped facilitate a $2,000 donation to help support the literacy programs of the KCGSB.

“The gift of reading is very important for these kids,” said Pendergrass. “It doesn’t take much to donate a book and help children in need. Thanks to the support from Georgia Power for this project, they are able to purchase bookcases, install them and fill them with books for children to read while visiting the local laundromats.”

Currently, there are two fully operational laundromat libraries in Mableton and Austell. With the support of Georgia Power, the KCGSB is now looking to identify, fund and open four additional Laundromat Libraries.

The Metro West Citizens of Georgia Power chapter hosted a book drive earlier this year and collected approximately 2,000 books to help support this project. “Our chapter was ecstatic that Debbi brought this idea to our team,” said Craig Bell, Metro West chapter president. “We donated an assortment of books like ‘Pete The Cat,’ ‘Snuggle Puppy,’ and ‘Little Bill’ so that kids could enjoy a wide variety of reading experiences as their parents cleaned the family’s clothes for the week.” 

When asked to share a memorable moment from this project Deborah first smiled, and then proudly shared that she volunteered to put stickers on the donated books, and it touched her heart to see the number of books people had donated. Deborah also mentioned that seeing the many local high school student volunteers that helped was proof that this project was coming to fruition.